Sourcing “people familiar with the matter,” the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is likely to circulate a draft order to the rest of the Commission’s members as soon as this week to approve Charter’s purchase of Time Warner Cable.
Potential conditions will come as little surprise to anyone familiar with the situation. Charter would probably be limited from including clauses in its pay TV contracts that restrict a programmer’s ability to offer its content online. Blocking new entrants from entering the market would also be a no-no. Additionally, the draft order most likely would require the operator to extend broadband to more homes and upgrade current offerings, according to the WSJ article.
Quick to respond was Free Press CEO and President Craig Aaron: “If this leak to the press was just a trial balloon, Wheeler should pop it. If he’s serious about broadband competition — and he recently admitted he hasn’t done enough to promote it — the Chairman needs to block this disastrous deal and get back to protecting the public interest.”
“The FCC Chairman claims that his mantra is competition, competition, competition. Maybe his new slogan should be competition, competition — never mind,” Aaron concludes.
New York and New Jersey have already blessed the merger, but things on the left side of the country are not looking as clear for Charter/TWC.
Earlier this month, California consumer watchdog The Office of Ratepayer Advocates, named potential difficulties with broadband and voice quality — as well as pricing and competitive issues — as reasons that the state should deny the merger. A California decision is expected in May.
Filed Under: Industry regulations