Time Warner Cable and Charter Get Green Light to Merge by FCC Chair

By Petr Svab, Epoch Times
April 26, 2016 11:43 am Last Updated: June 5, 2016 3:27 pm

Time Warner Cable was approved to merge with Charter Communications by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler on April 25.

The deal, that values Time Warner Cable at $78.7 billion, also includes Charter’s purchase of Bright House Networks for $10.4 billion.

The resulting company, New Charter, will serve almost 24 million customers in the U.S., placing it in close competition with the biggest players like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon.

The approval comes with some conditions. Wheeler put an order to the other FCC commissioners recommending the deal with three caveats:

  • New Charter will not be permitted to charge usage-based prices or impose data caps.
  • It will also be prohibited from charging fees for connecting internet content providers with their customers. That also includes online video providers (OVDs).
  • Additionally, the Department of Justice’s settlement with Charter outlaws video programming terms that could harm OVDs and protects OVDs from retaliation.

The conditions are to be in place for 7 years.

“The cumulative impact of these conditions will be to provide additional protection for new forms of video programming services offered over the Internet,” Wheeler stated in an April 25 release.

The merger was proposed in May 2015 and still needs to be approved by the full FCC as well as the California Public Utilities Commission.

“We are pleased that Chairman Wheeler has submitted the proposed conditions for consideration by the full Commission and that the DOJ has submitted its agreement for approval by the court,” Charter’s April 25 release states. “The conditions that will be imposed ensure Charter’s current consumer-friendly and pro-broadband businesses practices will be maintained by New Charter. We are confident New Charter will be a leading competitor in the broadband and video markets and are optimistic that we will soon receive final approval from federal regulators as well as the California PUC.”

Based on an April 20 release, the companies don’t expect to collect all regulatory approvals before May 12.

Comcast tried to merge with Time Warner Cable last year, but failed to clear regulatory hurdles.