Whether it's goodwill or good lobbying, comments to the FCC suggest the public is in favor of Charter's proposed acquisitions of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.
A large percentage of comment submissions are either procedural in nature or positive recommendations supporting the Charter Communications Inc. transactions. Of the most recent 25 comments filed (as of the time of this writing), six are procedural clarifications and acknowledgements, two are confidential submissions from parties related to the transactions, two are negative comments from individuals and 15 are letters urging regulatory approval of the deals by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) .
That pattern is not an anomaly.
A sampling of the rest of the 300+ comments finds that a significant number support the mergers. These are, for the most part, not individuals writing in, but representatives of local governments and community organizations citing the benefits of a New Charter in efforts ranging widely from diversity initiatives to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education advancement and economic development.
The city manager for the city of Hudsonville, Mich., for example, voices support while pointing to several Charter talking points about the merger, including the buildout of 300,000 new WiFi access points, efforts to bring broadband to more low-income consumers and the creation of new US jobs in cable call centers. The president of the Round Rock Chamber in Texas highlights Charter's commitment to a "fair, transparent, and open Internet," noting that the company has promised not to impose data caps or usage-based pricing, and has said it will "not engage in paid prioritization."
Even the CEO of the Capital Region Chamber in New York hails the Charter deals, praising the company's plans to invest heavily in infrastructure in the area and offer broadband at speeds of no less than 60 Mbit/s. This despite the fact that the New York Public Service Commission filed a report suggesting that Charter should build out gigabit networks in the upstate region and offer speeds as high as 300 Mbit/s within the next three and a half years as a condition of approval of the purchase of Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC). According to a story in the Times Union out of Albany, Charter does not agree with those recommendations.
Charter's regulatory push for the mergers with TWC and Bright House Networks has been more muted than Comcast's was in its failed bid for Time Warner Cable. However, that doesn't mean that Charter isn't putting significant resources behind the effort. In July, The Hill reported that Charter hired four lobbying firms in a single day, bringing its total number to nine.
The FCC formally started its review of the deals only in mid-September, but the official deadline for public comments is coming up in a week on October 13. Before that date, Charter is undoubtedly encouraging all of its supporters to weigh in. (See Shot Clock Starts on Charter Deals and FCC Sets Up Review Team for Charter Deals.)
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading