NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Time was when Comcast (CMCSA) was just a regional cable-TV provider, and Brian Roberts was his father's son, quietly learning the business.
Comcast these days is at the center of heated debates about the future of media and the Internet. The Philadelphia-based corporation, the city's largest, has assumed the Bad Boy role once held by Microsoft (MSFT) and then later by Google (GOOG), though arguably Amazon (AMZN) has become Public Enemy No. 1 for putting the screws on book publishers and any number of retailers, large and small. But that's fodder for another column.
For the moment, Comcast and Roberts have become the lightning rod for net neutrality activists after securing a proposal with Time Warner Cable (TWC) to merge in a transaction valued at $45 billion. In doing so, Comcast more recently prompted Rupert Murdoch to issue a hostile bid on July 16 to merge his 21st Century Fox (FOXA) with long-time rival Time Warner (TWX) in a deal valued at $80 billion and likely to get pricier.
Murdoch, for his part, may also have been hearing footsteps from the new money guys at Facebook (FB), Amazon or Google while Comcast was clearly the reason AT&T (T) promptly secured an agreement to merge with DirecTV (DTV) in a deal valued at $48.5 billion. Furthermore, it's why subsequent acquisition speculation has recently boosted the share prices of smaller content producer such as Discovery Communications (DISCA), Scripps Networks Interactive (SNI) and AMC Networks (AMCX).