"Comcast, Charter reach $20-billion deal, would swap customers in L.A."
Cable companies Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications have agreed to a $20-billion deal that would exchange subscribers in numerous markets, including Los Angeles, should Comcast prevail in its bid to acquire Time Warner Cable.
Nearly 280,000 homes in Los Angeles that currently receive their cable service from Charter would be affected by provisions of the deal unveiled Monday.
Those Charter subscribers, in such cities as Long Beach, Malibu, Burbank, Glendale and Alhambra, would eventually become Comcast customers -- perhaps as early as next year.I'm not sure which is the more shocking, the headline (and the associated story) or the completely blasé and matter-of-fact way in which it is being reported. This is not the way a free market is supposed to work. At the risk of stating what should be obvious but apparently isn't, in a free market, the customer is supposed to select the supplier, not the other way around. Suppliers are not supposed to be able to trade customers as if they were a commodity. And yet, this is the situation we are in.
Not only is this the situation we are in, but we have somehow gotten here with only the feeblest of protests. This should be an outrageous situation, but there is no outrage. There is barely any indication that anyone thinks this situation is even remarkable or noteworthy, let alone outrageous. And that is truly outrageous.
[UPDATE] A number of commenters have made the point that it's not capitalism that's the problem but politics. I basically agree with this, and perhaps I should have chosen a different headline. But the point I was trying to make is not so much about the exact nature of the problem but rather that the Charter/Comcast deal -- and, more to the point, people's (lack of) reaction to it -- is illustrative of the problem.
[UPDATE2] Lively discussion on Hacker News