California cable universe resets to default

10 May 2015 by Steve Blum
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The last surviving remnant of the failed Comcast – Time Warner – Charter mega mash-up has gone to the Golden Hills. According to a story run on Reuters, Charter’s side deal to buy Bright House is dead…

Charter, the No. 4 U.S. cable operator, clinched the deal with Bright House in March contingent on completion of Comcast Corp’s $45.2 billion merger with Time Warner Cable Inc. Comcast walked away from the Time Warner Cable deal last month because of antitrust hurdles.

Charter’s agreement with Bright House includes a 30-day provision for them to renegotiate a deal in this event. That period lapses in about two weeks. Even though negotiations are still formally continuing, Bright House, which is controlled by the Newhouse family, owner of magazine publisher Conde Nast, now believes it best to remain independent, [Reuter’s unamed sources] said this week.

Charter-owned systems are scattered about California. Several are still rocking the 90s with analog television and no broadband capability. Bright House owns a handful, in and around western Kern County, that are capable of delivering broadband at more or less deliver DOCSIS 3 speeds, although actual performance depends on overall system capacity, which is, at best, uneven.

Had the original deal gone as planned, Comcast would have ended owning all of Charter’s systems in California, with the exception of those around Lake Tahoe, which are tied to the Reno market. The assumption was that one way or the other, Comcast would have ended up with the Bright House systems in the San Joaquin Valley too.

None of that will happen, at least for now. With everything reverting to the 2013 status quo, the next round of dealmaking – or attempted dealmaking – is ready to begin.