Comcast's secret online video plans compete directly with TWC, merger opponents tell California regulators

Starting in February 2014, when it first publicly proposed its $45.2 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) has framed its regulatory pitch on the fact that its video services footprint have little, if any, overlap with that of TWC.

However, a group of California deal opponents say Comcast has plans to launch a broad-reaching, national online video service that render those supposedly safe battle lines moot.

According to Bloomberg, the California Office of Ratepayer Advocates has urged the state's Public Utilities Commission to reject the merger. The group claims it has discovered, within reams of federal regulatory filings rendered by Comcast, plans to launch such a streaming service.

They claim, in a March 17 filing, that such a streaming service would compete directly with TWC in important markets like Los Angeles, undermining Comcast's claims of limited competitive overlap for video services.

Discovery of the regulatory documents is, the Ratepayer Advocates say, "an important and critical development" that shows TWC and Comcast "must be considered as direct potential, if not actual, competitors."

In response, Comcast refers to documents filed to U.S. regulators saying it considered such an online video strategy, but ultimately decided against it.

It's widely believed that Comcast has something up its sleeve in regard to over-the-top distribution. The company was in negotiations last year with Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) to launch a streaming service. Apple is now moving forward with plans to launch an OTT-based pay-TV service, but Comcast is trying to steer clear of it.

For more:
- read this Bloomberg story

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