The deal, worth $45 billion and first announced over a year ago, is now in doubt of pushing through.
Comcast attorneys talked with representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice for several hours, as the department is determining whether a powered up Comcast would be stifling to the competition. Comcast also met with FCC representatives, as the agency reviews if the deal would be beneficial to the public.
Following this meeting with reviewers from the Justice Department, there are reports that Comcast is planning to abandon it's planned merger with Time Warner Cable. No announcement has been made but it could come as early as Friday.
The FCC currently has three options, namely to recommend approval for the deal, recommend the denial of the deal, or push forward the issue to an administrative law judge who will come to a conclusion.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the FCC is leaning towards referring the decision to an administrative law judge, a process which would take months and give opponents of the merger more time to launch criticisms against Comcast.
"This would appear to be a death sentence for the transaction," wrote BTIG Research media analyst Rich Greenfield.
A move by the FCC would be unusual, but not unprecedented. The agency took the same route for the proposed merger between T-Mobile and AT&T, which ultimately failed.
"We had one in a series of meetings with the Department of Justice today, as well as another meeting with the FCC," confirmed Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice, but the details of the meeting was not disclosed.
Comcast is looking to merge with Time Warner Cable to be able to gain footing into the lucrative cable markets of Dallas, Los Angeles and New York. If the deal pushes through, Comcast would become the dominant cable provider in California with a subscriber base of 4 million.
Federal regulators, however, are worried that Comcast, which is already currently the country's biggest provider of services for high-speed Internet and cable TV, would use its expanded market share to crush all other players in the industry. In addition, Comcast could wield too much power in setting the prices that programmers will receive and that advertisers will pay.
If the deal is blocked, it would be a huge blow for Comcast, which has already spent over $300 million in costs associated with pushing the deal forward.
However, Greenfield believes that Comcast could have several backup plans in the case that its merger with Time Warner Cable is blocked. One such backup plan could have Comcast looking at acquiring Netflix to boost its business.
Photo: Mike Mozart | Flickr