Word that Rupert Murdoch and his 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ: FOX) behemoth was rebuffed after offering to acquire Time Warner Inc. (NASDAQ: TWX) has dominated headlines for nearly 48 hours, yet many readers admit to being confused in no small part because the news came just months after word that Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA) bought Time Warner.
The short answer is this: There are two different Time Warner companies. Along with Time Warner Inc. -- the multinational media corporation that owns HBO, Castle Rock Entertainment and Warner Bros., among dozens of others – there’s Time Warner Cable Inc. (NASDAQ: TWC). The latter is a New York City-based cable and telecommunications company that provides digital cable service, Internet and phone service.
The long answer is a bit more complicated. The two companies share an office space in Midtown Manhattan and have the same name, but have almost nothing else in common.
Time Warner Cable was, in fact, acquired by Comcast in a deal reached in February slated to combine the largest cable and Internet provider in the United States (Comcast) with the second largest (Time Warner Cable). The proposed merger still needs approval from both the Federal Communication Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice before it’s finalized, but the issue has been a point of contention for customers and smaller businesses who argue that service will get worse as prices increase.
Suffice it to say that when the Australian-born Murdoch made his offer to buy Time Warner he wasn’t trying to acquire the same business that forces customers to spend a monthly $6 to merely rent a cable modem.