Broadband services

FCC Reportedly OKs Charter Deals

Despite the opposition of one Republican commissioner, the FCC has reportedly agreed to approve Charter's pending purchases of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

Both Bloomberg and Reuters are reporting that FCC Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Michael O'Rielly have thrown their support behind the two deals, joining Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler. That means a majority of the five-member agency is behind the transactions, which would turn Charter Communications Inc. into the second biggest cable operator and broadband provider in the US behind Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), as well as the nation's third biggest pay-TV provider behind Comcast and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T).

A fourth FCC commissioner, Republican Ajit Pai, has cast his vote against the mergers, according to the reports. Pai has repeatedly criticized the FCC for imposing conditions upon companies in return for granting them permission to acquire others.

That leaves just one more commissioner, Mignon Clyburn, to decide. But Clyburn, a Democratic appointee like Wheeler and Rosenworcel, would seem likely to follow the chairman's lead and support the deals. In either case, her vote won't matter much now.

While O'Rielly, a Republican, favors the deal overall, he dissented in part because of the conditions that the agency and Justice Department plan to place on Charter. That means that the final conditions could change before the full vote is completed and made public. The proposed conditions would bar Charter from imposing usage-based pricing and data caps on broadband service, charging interconnection fees or making agreements with video programmers that disadvantage online video competitors for the next seven years. (See Wheeler Recommends Charter Deals.)

Both the FCC and Charter have declined to comment on the reports.

With the support now of both the FCC and the Justice Department, Charter only needs approval from the California Public Utilities Commission. Last month a state administrative judge recommended that the public utilities commission approve the deal. The decision could come as early as May 12.

Shareholders of Charter and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) have already approved the companies' deal. Bright House Networks , which is privately held, also favors its acquisition. Charter President & CEO Tom Rutledge has said the deals could close shortly after the California PUC approves them.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

KBode 5/16/2016 | 2:24:55 PM
Re: Pai "And just how those decision makers and their representatives decide on what is cause for recusing themselves..."

Their solution to this has been easy: don't EVER recuse yourself, and ignore the obvious problems with revolving door regulation. It's utterly disgusting to people paying attention without a vested interest in the outcome.
kq4ym 5/13/2016 | 5:19:36 PM
Re: Pai The possible conflicts of interests may interesting reading. And just how those decision makers and their representatives decide on what is cause for recusing themselves from lobbying or actively having a postion makes one wonder.
KBode 5/9/2016 | 8:15:01 AM
Re: Pai He's also a former Verizon regulatory lawyer, so I believe that colors his thinking as well. He's a "free market supporter" that has defended the ISP right to pass state level protectionist laws that block local peoples' rights -- in turn -- to decide infrastructure decisions for themselves...
RobertHarris74 5/8/2016 | 8:16:35 AM
Easy It might seem complicated, but I am sure that Mignon Clyburn will consider it and pick a good way to solve this. Trust me on this one!
brooks7 5/8/2016 | 1:39:07 AM
Re: All this mess will do is. Shaft the public. The thing is that the subscribers that will come from Bright House and TWC will have exactly zero change to their competitive landscape.


WhoCares73658 5/7/2016 | 10:44:56 PM
All this mess will do is. Shaft the public. All this mess will do is shaft the public.

You can count on your bill going up a good 25%. You net speed droping. And your service going to hell.

And you really think Charter is going to go along with all the rules they have put on the train wreck. Ha!  Charter has a ton of loop holes in this deal. And wording as.. If this & if that. And if we can, and if we can not. And, And & more B.S.

Charter is not dumb. They know just what they are doing. And how they can shaft the public.

And who do you think is going to pay for the train wreck.. The public is. With a new high bill. Crap net service. And more.

Bend over & smile. The charter a$$ shaft is coming to your town soon.
danielcawrey 5/7/2016 | 11:39:04 AM
Re: Pai It looks like this is going to happen.

Will it be beneficial for customers? Hard to tell. It will allow Charter to better compete with larger rivals, but that doesn't necessarily benefit those using the service. We'll see. 
Joe Stanganelli 5/6/2016 | 1:29:14 PM
Pai Pai tends to be a very vocal free-market advocate, so this doesn't surprise me.  (Some have even suggested than in the case of a Republican White House win, Pai might be promoted to Commissioner.)
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