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Comcast can't answer the only important question about the TWC merger: why not compete?

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Invoking President Kennedy won't help you, Comcast

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Today, Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen published a 2,900-word essay called "Setting the record straight on criticisms of the Comcast-TWC transaction." Naturally, this noble effort in corporate spin required making inappropriate references to great leaders. "While it may be easy for critics to do this from the sidelines," Cohen wrote, "we would rather try, in the spirit of President Kennedy, to light a candle than to curse the darkness."

So let's do that, Mr. Cohen. Let's light a candle on the only relevant question in the Comcast / Time Warner merger that Comcast has refused to answer.

Are you chicken?

If competition is so vibrant and healthy in the broadband market — enough to make net neutrality regulation a bad idea, as ISPs including Comcast have argued — why won't Comcast compete with Time Warner? Why is Comcast buying Time Warner instead of competing with it?

Comcast says the deal will result in "no reduction in competition for consumers," a statement so aggressively full of bullshit that it's liable to make your head spin a full 180 degrees. Of course it won't result in a reduction of competition for consumers — because Comcast already refuses to compete in Time Warner's markets. Comcast has admitted this time and time again as a good reason for the deal to go through.

I've asked the question directly of Comcast executives. They have no answer — because they know there's literally nothing they can say with a straight face that any person with half a brain would find plausible. They would rather talk about their low-income broadband program and the new cable box it took them a decade to improve. The answer is simple: Comcast won't compete because it doesn't want to compete.

Verge Video archive: Comcast's argument for buying Time Warner Cable (2014)