FCC chairman backs Charter-TWC-Bright House merger

28 Apr 2016

Charter Communications’ long-running dual takeover of rival cablecos Time Warner Cable (TWC) and Bright House Networks received a major boost this week, with both the Department of Justice (DoJ) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler throwing their respective weight behind the proposed tie-up.

The DoJ firstly agreed a settlement forbidding the merged company, referred to as ‘New Charter’, from entering into, or enforcing, agreements that could make it more difficult for online video distributors (OVDs) to obtain video content from programmers. The DoJ’s Antitrust Division had alleged that TWC in particular has been an industry leader in seeking such restrictions.

Subsequently, Mr Wheeler issued the following statement: ‘Based on imposed conditions that will ensure a competitive video marketplace and increase broadband deployment, an order recommending that the Charter/Time Warner Cable/Bright House Networks transaction be approved has circulated to the [FCC] Commissioners. As proposed, the order outlines a number of conditions in place for seven years that will directly benefit consumers by bringing and protecting competition to the video marketplace and increasing broadband deployment. If the conditions are approved by my colleagues, an additional two million customer locations will have access to a high speed connection. At least one million of those connections will be in competition with another high speed broadband provider in the market served, bringing innovation and new choices for consumers, and demonstrate the viability of one broadband provider overbuilding another’.

The FCC’s final decision is expected to be imminent.