Negotiators and executives from Comcast and Time Warner Cable are set to sit down with the US Justice Department this week, according to The Wall Street Journal. The meeting is the first time regulators and representatives from the cable companies have sat down together to try and negotiate a deal to approve the merger. The two companies, according to the Journal's sources, will work to find concessions in an attempt to allay regulators' fears that the merged companies will wield too much power.
News of the meeting comes just days after Bloomberg reported that Justice Department lawyers, tasked with scrutinizing the deal, plan to submit a recommendation as soon as next week that regulators halt the merger. As part of the approval process, regulators have reportedly examined how Comcast has followed through with the conditions of its 2011 merger with NBCUniversal. Despite those reports, the cable companies likely see that there's still an opportunity to convince regulators to approve the deal. The companies may offer to give up some more customers — they already have a deal to pass off nearly 4 million accounts after the merger to another cable company, Charter.
Comcast and Time Warner Cable first announced their plans for a merger over a year ago. Prospects for the deal have somewhat soured since then after delays and signs that regulators from the Justice Department and the FCC have a number of concerns about the merger. It seems a decision will now come sooner rather than later, however; we'll have to wait and see if these negotiations have any bearing on the final outcome.