Comcast Corp. (CMCSA:US) and Time Warner Inc. (TWX:US), the two largest cable television operators, won U.S. antitrust approval to buy the cable TV outlets of bankrupt Adelphia Communications Corp. for $17.6 billion.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said in a statement that it closed its investigation of the proposed transaction, which must also be approved by the Federal Communications Commission.
``The evidence obtained during the investigation does not suggest that the proposed transactions are likely to substantially lessen competition in any geographic region in the United States,'' FTC Chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras, a Republican, said in a statement.
Creditors of Adelphia, the fifth-biggest cable-TV company, will get most of the proceeds of the transaction.
The two Democrats on the five-member FTC, Jon Leibowitz and Pamela Jones Harbour, expressed concern that allowing Comcast and Time Warner to expand their market share in cities such as Cleveland could lead to higher prices for regional sports programs.
Both DirecTV Group Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp., the biggest U.S. satellite broadcasters, told the FCC that they might have to pay more for sports programs from Comcast and Time Warner.
FCC spokesman David Fiske didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
``The focus of our attention now turns to the FCC, where we hope for a prompt ruling that this sale is in the public interest,'' Adelphia Chief Bill Schleyer said in a separate statement sent today by PR Newswire.
Adelphia has 5.3 million subscribers in Florida, Ohio, New York state and New England.
To contact the reporters on this story: James Rowley in Washington at email@example.com; Neil Roland in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ken Fireman in Washington at email@example.com.