Comcast acquired Time Warner Cable this past Thursday for $45 billion. They are predicted, if all goes as planned and the merger is approved by the federal government, to serve 1 out of every 3 homes in the United States (CNN: Gross). Many news stations have been covering the new acquisition, and users of social media sites definitely have put in their opinions without hesitation.
CNN’s article titled “What a Comcast-Time Warner deal could mean for you,” written yesterday, summarizes the buyout as well as analyzing the new horizons of possibility for Comcast and Time Warner customers. One way they look at this subject is using sub-headers such as “Would my bill go up?” and “What about service quality?” that go into what the upcoming changes are to the customers of these service providers. The author of this article definitely is a gatekeeper, in choosing what topics he finds are important to share with the public, like how the new acquisition will change their service options for the worse, or the better (if you were a Time Warner user).
Social media also allowed many people to vocalize their opinions of this merger. As social media goes, I will focus on people’s reaction via Twitter. On a website page called “People Generally Just Really Hate Their Cable Companies,” many consumers of Comcast and Time Warner Cable show their obvious hatred of the merger. One tweet reads “Comcast / Time Warner merger is like a merger between swine flu and the bubonic plague” (Mashable: Gerhard Stiene) while another tweet reads “Prediction: the Comcast/Time Warner merger talks will be slow, freeze a bunch of times, and eventually have to be restarted.” (Mashable: Matt Goldich). These tweets, along with the rest of the 23 that are provided on the website are proof that “gatecrashing” is at play here. Gatecrashing is a phenomenon in which users find other channels, rather than the regular gatekeeping channels, to publicize certain news or opinions. This website, Mashable.com, provides a place that is not a traditional news outlet for consumers to share what they really think of events that occur.
As goes for this article paired with this user-generated content-style website, I think that they are mutually reinforcing each other. In the article, it tries to be as objective as possible, but leans towards the acquisition being somewhat problematic for consumers of the individual service providers. The website contains 23 tweets that show those consumers’ hatred of the new merger. The article states that, “[w]henever there are mergers of two large customer-service providers…we tend to see quite a few problems…We’d be surprised if a new hybrid Comcast-Time Warner doesn’t produce a lower level of customer satisfaction for a year or two” (CNN: David VanAmberg). This view is widely held by all of the people who posted tweets concerning the new merger- they feel it will be a terrible endeavor as customers to either one of these service providers. This viewpoint is definitely apparent in the tweets as well as a slight bias in the news article.
A challenge that is presented by the twitter feeds of multiple people is accuracy. The tweets presented by unhappy customers of Time Warner and Comcast only show their opinions about the merger or their predictions, not the solid facts of the case like you see in the article on CNN. Though the viewpoints of the article and tweets somewhat coincide, the article on CNN is definitely more informative to consumers.