National / International News
Cable giants Comcast Corporation and Time Warner Cable are ditching out of their planned merger amidst a heap of regulatory scrutiny.
Combined, Comcast and Time Warner Cable would have had about 30 percent of the pay TV market and more than 50 percent of the broadband market.
Regulators worried that would thwart competition and mean higher prices for consumers.
“All that scale would give Comcast enormous discretion over what reaches Americans, what Americans pay, information flows, customer service—really unlimited power,” says Susan Crawford is co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.
Crawford also says President Barack Obama's push to have broadband providers regulated like utilities signaled the government would step up its scrutiny.
But Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey thinks regulators are taking an overly narrow view. He doubts a Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger would've kept other players out of the lucrative broadband market.
“Because broadband is going to generate billions of dollars of revenue and billions of dollars of profit in the next ten years, broadband competition is going to happen,” says McQuivey.
McQuivey says that means companies like Google, Amazon and even Facebook could eventually be motivated to enter the fray.
The Comcast and Time Warner Cable deal is officially off. More on that. Plus, it's been two years since a terrible collapse of a clothing factory in Bangladesh, killing more than 1,100 workers. Among the findings was that workers there had recognized things were wrong with the building a day before the collapse, but factory owners demanded the workers go back in. There have been various moves to improve working conditions in the years since, and one of the key recommendations was to make it easier to set up unions in Bangladesh. Now, the questions remains: if they had been given a stronger voice, the workers might have been able to refuse to go back into the building.
It's time for Silicon Tally! How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?
Some 1.5 million Armenians were killed or deported in the violence unleashed by Ottoman Turks starting in 1915. Turkey and Armenia still disagree on how to define these terrible events.
The Urban Movie Channel, created by BET founder, Robert L. Johnson, is being touted as "the black Netflix." This week, it releases the first original movie, Blackbird.
Puerto Rico finance officials warn a government shutdown may be only months away. Puerto Rico is saddled with $70 billion in debt and has been unable to sell the billions in bonds it needs to avoid running out of money.
Heidie Calero, a business consultant there, says the question is whether Puerto Rico's lawmakers will overhaul the tax system.
"Right now we have so many suspense stories that it's really terrible," she says.
This crisis didn't happen overnight. Government spending has outpaced revenue for years. U.S. tax breaks made the island attractive for businesses, and Puerto Rico had itself a moment. Those tax credits ended, but spending went on.
"From investment grade that we were before, a very coveted financial paper, we are now the status of junk," Calero says.
Luiz Mesquita, a business professor at Arizona State, blames mismanagement. Take the troubled Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, which is state run.
"And because of these mismanagements, you see the cost of energy for local businesses to go up significantly," he says.
And when it's expensive to do business in Puerto Rico, companies just don't see the appeal anymore.
Audio for this story is forthcoming.
Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, is expected to introduce a new proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020.
Why $12? President Barack Obama used his 2013 State of the Union address to call for raising it from $7.25, its current rate, to $9 an hour. But in his 2014 address, he bumped that up to $10.10 an hour. "$10.10," the President said. "It's easy to remember $10.10."
In the meantime, a fast food workers' movement has been pushing for a $15 an hour wage, and Chicago and Seattle raised theirs to $13 and $15, respectively.
"The good news is ... we are going to learn more about how local labor markets adjust to higher minimum wages," says Arindrajit Dube, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
That's because Chicago and Seattle's hikes will be the highest ever in the U.S.
As for Senator Murray's $12 minimum wage bill: it would increase 75 cents to $8 in 2016, then a dollar more each year until it reaches $12 in 2020.
Gary Burtless, an economist with the Brookings Institution, says it's unlikely to pass in this congress, but "very large majorities of the public believe the minimum wage is too low and we would be better off if we raised it."