Broadband services

On Paper, Support Runs High for Charter/TWC

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.

Want to know more about pay-TV market trends? Check out our dedicated video services content channel here on Light Reading.

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

kq4ym 10/18/2015 | 5:19:42 PM
Re: Singing for Your Supper I'm not so sure this is a done deal as the FCC will obviously see through those filings and probably keep their intent to provide the public with competitive sources for service. Even though this proposed merger is not nearly the size of the merger recently quashed, it may just be large enough to casue the FCC to balk on the proposed terms.
Phil_Britt 10/11/2015 | 4:26:10 PM
Re: Singing for Your Supper Even if support sources are questionable, allowing for all but the largets mergers has been the trend. Look at the airlines. Though various combinations with Sprint and T-Mobile and Comcast-Time Warner were rejected, the days of blocking mergers in the interest of competition (and better consumer options) are long gone, I'm afraid.
Editor32643 10/7/2015 | 11:15:20 AM
Singing for Your Supper A closer inspection of those sending testimonials about the wonders of this merger reveal the overwhelming majority, if not all, receive substantial monetary support from Time Warner Cable in the form of grants, donations, in-kind contributions, or other things of value.

The fact those letters are also suspiciously similar isn't a mistake either. A "convenient" lobbying kit containing sample letters and talking points sent by guess who makes it a simple matter to sing for your supper as a non-profit, with the implied understanding that is a good way to return a favor and ensure new ones in the future.

In short, they aren't worth the paper they are printed on.


Phillip Dampier
Sign In