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Last year, Comcast announced its plan to buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion and merge the two cable providers into one. On Friday, however, the companies said the takeover was off. The deal’s collapse — a huge blow to Comcast, which had spent some $237 million on efforts to get it approved — comes shortly after outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder told regulators at the Department of Justice that they had his approval to challenge the merger.

Regulators had expressed fears that the deal would harm competition and consumers alike.

The New York Times reports:

With a national platform, Comcast would have been able to build a stronger rival to streaming services like Netflix that threaten the traditional television business. It also could have thwarted television networks’ attempts at creating their own streaming services by forcing them to hold back programming. At the same time, the company would have wielded more power over the broadband networks that those services need.

Critics said customers would end up paying more for declining service and that the company would stave off competition and innovation in the online video business. Others said the deal would result in a lack of independent and diverse voices in television. The company also was scrutinized for failing to live up to commitments it had made in previous deals, like the NBCUniversal transaction.

“It shows that even big cable has to listen to the American people who spoke loudly and clearly on this and who understood how important this was to keep the communications infrastructure free and open, and protect it from gatekeeping,” said Michael Copps, a former Democratic member of the Federal Communications Commission and an adviser to the Common Cause public interest group.

— Posted by Donald Kaufman

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