Bigger is not necessarily better, some TV consumers said Monday after hearing the news of a proposed merger between Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable.
Charter is reportedly nearing completion of a $55-billion-plus deal to acquire Time Warner Cable for about $195 a share. The merger would make the combined company one of the nation's largest for cable TV and Internet service.
"I actually like Charter, but any time you have big corporations joining together, it doesn't bode well," said John Liu-Klein, a downtown Los Angeles resident and Time Warner Cable subscriber. "I don't think initially it will affect prices — that would be too toward — but I assume it will in the long run. In the end, you'll have a reduced number of choices, and they just have you over a barrel."
The deal would include Bright House Networks. If combined, the three companies would form a media giant with about 20 million subscribers — 2 million customers in Los Angeles, San Diego and Ventura counties alone, making it the largest pay-TV provider in Southern California.
Proponents say mergers can lower prices as cable companies gain leverage in negotiating contracts with TV networks; skeptics worry that mergers lead to reduced competition and, eventually, higher prices and reduced customer service.
Heated discussions of pros and cons brewed on social media and in reader comments to the main Times story that numbered more than 50 by late afternoon.
Los Angeles resident Gildardo Perez said he has steered clear of Time Warner Cable.
"I've heard people complain about bad customer service, but I've never experienecd it because I don't use them — and I wouldn't any time soon because of all this," he said, adding that corporate consolidation was bad for consumers in general. "They're not gonna have many options."