The Comcast Call: Part II

The following is a transcription of a telephone call September 26, 2014 between William J. Baer, assistant attorney general, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice and Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast. The subject is the proposed $46 billion merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable. 

ROBERTS: You’re speaking to Brian. This call may be recorded for quality purposes. How can I assist you today?

BAER: Mr. Roberts, Bill Baer calling from Justice. Just wanted to give you a heads up about our antitrust review of your merger. We have nothing in writing to show you yet, but this is unofficial notification of our recommendation to the Attorney General. We’re just not going to let this go through.

ROBERTS: Help me understand this, okay? Why would you not let the nation’s largest cable provider be even larger? Why wouldn’t you want the Number 1 rated internet service to be even Number 1-erer?

BAER: Well, Number 1-erishness goes to exactly our concerns. We’re nervous, of course, about undue leverage over cable customers and content providers. But it’s the broadband concentration that most concerns us. It would be 40% of our nation’s economy, 40% of our communications, 40% of our entertainment, 40% of our information -- in essence, 40% of our entire society would go through your pipes. That’s more concentration than we are comfortable with.



ROBERTS: Why wouldn’t you want that going through the fastest network, the Number 1 network?

BAER: Well, I’m just telling you we don’t want one gigantic company to control…

ROBERTS: You know, we’ve been a U.S. company for 51 years. It’s been going great for you, okay? I’m just trying to understand why you’d suddenly want us to stop growing, okay?

BAER: I’m just calling you to inform you that the merger will not go through.

ROBERTS: I’m trying to help you, okay?

BAER: How does it help me for you to argue with me when I’m simply giving you the courtesy of a call about our decision?

ROBERTS: It sounds like you don’t want to go over this information with me.

BAER: No, I just have gone over the information.

ROBERTS: Will you approve the AT&T- DirecTV merger?

BAER: I’m declining to state. Can you go to the next question?

ROBERTS: If you so hate “concentration,” okay -- will you disapprove their merger?

BAER: I’m declining to state. Please go to the next question.

ROBERTS: You don’t want good service? You don’t want something that works?

BAER: Do you understand that the decision is made?

ROBERTS: My job is to help you understand why you should approve this merger.

BAER: Do you understand that the decision is made? Yes or no?

ROBERTS: You sound like you feel that I’m try to argue with you.

BAER: Do you understand that the decision is made? Yes or no?

ROBERTS: If that’s really what you want to do, please visit one of our stores and return 20 million Time Warner modems.

BAER: I’m not going to visit one of your stores.

ROBERTS: Okay, I want to thank you for being a great part of the Oppressive Regulatory State. Thank you very much. Have a great day.



2 comments about "The Comcast Call: Part II".
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  1. Ruth Barrett from, July 21, 2014 at 5:09 p.m.

    Clueless is he, Mr. Roberts.

  2. Michael E. Keenan from Keenan & Company, July 22, 2014 at 11:18 a.m.

    Anti-monoply/economic concentration laws have served us well for 100+ years, they embody the essence of what we are as a country, why succumb yet again to big bucks to the detriment of citizens?

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