What animal would win in a fight between a tiger and a gorilla?
This was the topic of discussion during today’s lunch at our agency’s studio table.
After much debate and discussion—considering the size, strength, weight and abilities of each animal (e.g. claws vs. opposable thumbs)—the table was at a stalemate. There’s no doubt both animals are at the top of the food chain, having no known predators in the wild.
Though neither side could persuade the other on who would win the hypothetical battle between these formidable creatures, I started to think, “What if a predator had the capabilities of both animals? A super predator. A tigerilla. Since both are respectively dangerous, joining their capabilities and strengths would compound into an elite fury they could inflict on their prey.”
Now before you dismiss this discussion as some outlandish plot to a low-budget, sci-fi film, allow me to present it in a different way. Who is your cable provider? Based on market share trends, I would venture to guess either Comcast® or Time Warner Cable® given that Time Warner is the second largest cable company in the U.S. behind Comcast.
Time Warner—the “tiger” of the cable industry—has pounced on all its competition with great ferocity and rules its various territories in a carnivorous manner.
Comcast—the “gorilla” of the cable industry—has effectively bullied all competition out of its territories and wrestled its consumers into submission.
What could be worse than these two industry animals operating separately in their respective territories? A merger that would create a near monopoly of one super-company controlling over two-thirds of the cable market.
This could be a reality as Comcast has officially filed a 180-page document to the Federal Communications Commission for a Comcast/TWC merger. Many writers, critics, public interest groups and consumers are already voicing their objections. A petition has been drafted that currently has 400,000 signatures and letters have been sent to the FCC and Department of Justice urging government officials to reject the proposed unification of powerful companies.
Ellen Stutzman, Director of Research and Public Policy at the Writers Guild of America, raised the worrisome topic of media and content censorship power in saying, “It’s anti-competitive and it’s a bad deal for content creators as well as consumers…allowing them to get bigger by acquiring 8 or 10 million new customers will make them too powerful of a content gatekeeper.”[i]
Chris Meyer, Vice President of External Affairs for Consumers Union, addresses the existing low customer satisfaction of the two companies and goes further to encourage readers to voice their opinions and sign the petition to reject the merger in his article, I Want A Bigger Cable Company, Said No One Ever.[ii]
I’m frightened of the power this “tigerilla” could wield if these two cable-industry animals continue to gain strength through a merger. If they already prey on consumers as individual companies (as many of their customers can attest to), what will happen once they join forces and eliminate even more competition in the cable market?
Higher cable or internet prices? Even worse customer service? One entity having unprecedented control over programming?
It’s an unsettling thought, and this is exactly why we have federal regulatory agencies in place. Let’s just hope our government sides with the people it serves and prevents the cable-industry “tigerilla” from preying on us little folks.