FORTUNE -- It's not often that an FCC commissioner weighs in on a possible merger in the communications industry. But Ajit Pai did just that in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Thursday. He doubts the government would approve an outright acquisition by Comcast (CMCSA) of Time Warner Cable (TWC).
"The Obama administration has applied greater scrutiny to proposed mergers and acquisitions," he said, noting AT&T's (T) withdrawal in 2011 of a proposed acquisition of T-Mobile (TMUS) in the face of a government lawsuit, as well as the Justice Department's lawsuit opposing the merger of U.S. Airways (LCC) and American Airlines, which resulted in a settlement last month.
"Precedents like this suggest an outright acquisition by Comcast of Time Warner Cable could face a number of hurdles in the Obama administration," Pai said. "A Republican administration likely would be more inclined to approve a deal." Pai is one of two Republicans among the five commissioners.
The Journal also reported that Comcast has "discussed" taking parts of Time Warner Cable, with Charter taking other parts, presumably to avoid antitrust problems.
Comcast acquired NBC Universal in 2010, and the FCC's and DOJ's approval of that deal has been met with widespread criticism. The notion of a full acquisition of Time Warner has similarly caused alarm among industry observers. The FCC's new chairman Tom Wheeler on Monday indicated that he will carefully scrutinize all merger proposals to prevent any erosion of competition in the communications industry. The worry with a megamerger among cable companies has more to do with the market power they could amass in their dealings with TV programmers than with their power over cable customers (where cable companies generally enjoy local monopolies anyway.)
It's impossible to predict what might happen if Comcast were to make a bid for all of Time Warner Cable, but as things stand, it seems unlikely that it would be approved, at least without conditions. More likely is a joint bid with Charter, especially since Charter on its own would have to take on a huge debt load to acquire Time Warner Cable -- and both companies are already debt-laden. Charter also wouldn't be able to offer much of a premium over Time Warner Cable's market cap. On Friday, Time Warner Cable was trading at around $130 a share, putting its market cap at just above $37 billion. Charter's market cap is just above $13 billion.
The Instagram exec has always been drawn to a challenge. Snapchat just happens to be the newest one on her list.
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News Corp's Wall Street Journal calls for Judge Denise Cote to be taken off the case.
FORTUNE -- Most of arguments the Wall Street Journal made Friday in a strident editorial calling for the ouster of the judge in the e-book antitrust case were taken from a motion Apple (AAPL) filed last week. (See Apple to judge: You and your antitrust monitor are way out of line.)
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Talk is cheap.
FORTUNE -- All the noise over what Apple ought to do with its cash almost makes one wistful for the days when everyone obsessed only over Apple's products.
Time coverboy Carl Icahn is on Apple's (AAPL) case to give back more of its cash to shareholders -- like himself. It's a perfectly reasonable position to take. Apple's hoard had grown to the nine figures with no reasonable prospects for MOREAdam Lashinsky, Sr. Editor at Large - Dec 5, 2013 9:22 AM ET
The on-demand, mobile app-based transportation service has enjoyed tremendous growth. Its new financing platform promises to press the pedal even closer to the metal.
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