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NY Times: Under Regulators’ Scrutiny, Comcast and Time Warner Cable End Deal

Regulators declared victory on Friday after Comcast and Time Warner Cable confirmed that they had aborted their $45 billion merger, which would have created a truly national cable company with unprecedented control over the future of the country’s television and broadband markets.

The unraveling of the deal came after Attorney General Eric Holder told Justice Department lawyers at a meeting two weeks ago that they had his support in deciding to challenge the transaction, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The collapse quickly set off a new round of deal chatter. On Friday, bankers representing Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications, the regional cable operator, started early talks, according to one person with knowledge of the discussions. Last year Charter, backed by the billionaire John C. Malone, lost out to Comcast in the bidding for Time Warner Cable, and Mr. Malone had said they would try again if the Comcast takeover fell through.

A Charter spokesman declined to comment.

The Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal would have brought together the country’s two largest cable operators at a time when the Internet acts as the ultimate gateway for information and entertainment, and when vast technology changes revolutionize how people watch and pay for television.

Combined, the companies would have controlled as much as 57 percent of the nation’s broadband market and just under 30 percent of pay television service. That threshold appeared to be too much for federal regulators, who had signaled that they were leaning toward blocking the deal.

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