Charter-TWC merger close to FCC approval, report says

18 Mar 2016

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler is expected to circulate a draft order approving Charter Communications’ USD55 billion deal to buy Time Warner Cable (TWC) within a matter of days, the Wall Street Journal reports. The approval, which is likely to be accompanied by a list of conditions relating to both pay-TV contracts and broadband buildout commitments, will be sent to the four other FCC commissioners for review and modification.

The deal is likely to include a requirement for Charter to build or upgrade service to more homes, boosting availability of high speed broadband, the WSJ notes citing people familiar with the matter. Mr Wheeler has previously indicated that it would help competition if cable companies ventured outside their exclusive regions and opted to ‘overbuild’ into each other’s service areas to better compete. While the specifics of the buildout requirement are still being negotiated, there remain doubts over whether or not the FCC will impose cable-on-cable competition.

At this juncture, industry insiders have observed that the reason why Charter is set to succeed where TWC’s previous suitor Comcast failed is down to the cableco’s willingness to agree to a broader range of concessions.