Charter’s plans to acquire Time Warner Cable/Bright House took another regulatory step forward as the FCC released a short statement on Friday that it had approved the deal. The FCC emphasized that it would impose conditions and “an order detailing the Commission’s reasoning and the conditions will be issued in the coming days.” FCC Chair Tom Wheeler circulated his approval to other commissioners at the end of April, detailing requirements that among other things reportedly would help diminish potential threats to online video competition.
Tom Rutledge, president and CEO of Charter, says in a statement that the benefits of the transaction include greater competition, more consumer and OTT friendly broadband policies, broader access to affordable broadband and added U.S. jobs.
“The conditions are largely extensions of the longstanding consumer friendly values and practices of our company, and based on the commitments we put forward during the review process,” Rutledge says. “Charter will be a stronger competitor in the broadband and video markets, well positioned to deliver these benefits and more to consumers.”
Charter states that many of the conditions it agreed to as part of the FCC approval were either codified or reflected specific commitments it offered proactively at the beginning of the transaction review process. Those include “no data caps or usage-based billing, a commitment to build out high-speed broadband service to unserved and underserved customers, the fastest low-income broadband program of any major service provider, and settlement-free peering.”
Free Press, which is a member of the Stop Mega Cable Coalition, charged the FCC with approving the creation of a “price-gouging cable giant.”
“The FCC needs to stop approving mega-mergers and start getting serious about policies that protect openness, promote affordability and spur competition,” Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron says.
Expect to hear more from FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai since he voted against approving the deal in protest of the conditions, according to an article published in The Hill. “The FCC’s merger review process is badly broken. Chairman Wheeler’s order isn’t about competition, competition, competition; it’s about regulation, regulation, regulation,” a Pai spokesperson told The Hill. “It’s about imposing conditions that have nothing to do with the merits of this transaction. It’s about the government micromanaging the Internet economy.”
California regulators still need to approve the acquisition. They are scheduled to vote this Thursday.
Filed Under: Industry regulations