CPUC to FCC: Comcast’s proposed mega-merger poses particular problems for California

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

California knows fit characters.

The California Public Utilities Commission is urging the FCC to consider Comcast’s “character and fitness to hold FCC licenses or authorizations”, particularly in light of an ongoing enquiry into its admitted publication of confidential subscriber information. That’s one of the highlights of comments the CPUC filed with the FCC regarding its review of the proposed merger of Comcast and Time-Warner. (H/T to UCSC’s Jim Warner for the heads up – I was slacking off in the Sierra when this went down. Not that I’m apologising for it…).

The filing also hints at the questions the CPUC will be considering in its review of the merger, as well as the market swap with Charter that would give Comcast control of as much as 80% of the California cable market. In particular, the CPUC…

…urges the FCC to require the applicants to demonstrate why the claimed merger benefits could not be provided by Comcast and Time Warner if they remain separate entities. The CPUC requests that the FCC require Comcast to justify its statement that the merger of two of the largest cable providers, broadband providers, and Voice of Internet Protocol (VoIP) interconnected voice providers in the nation would not result in any harm to the public interest. Finally, the CPUC urges the FCC to review closely Comcast’s implementation and administration of its “Internet Essentials” program, in light of allegations that Comcast has not met its commitments regarding the execution of this program.

The CPUC also restates its decision to go beyond narrow telephone license questions in its review of the three-way mega-deal, and consider the “impact of the merger on the deployment of broadband in California”. Any findings that come out of that process will be given to the FCC. And, judging by this latest missive, won’t make for pleasant reading at Comcast headquarters.