Comcast says, come on CPUC, all the other kids are doing it

25 March 2015 by Steve Blum
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California is the only western state that hasn’t approved the Comcast-Time Warner-Charter menage and it’s lagging behind most of the rest of the U.S. too, according to a filing made by Comcast back in January and posted yesterday by the California Public Utilities Commission. The filing also gives a glimpse into how the CPUC’s ex parte process actually works, as opposed to how Comcast proposed to make use of it.

At a series of meetings over two days with advisors to three CPUC commissioners – Florio, Randolph and president Picker – a full poker hand’s worth of Comcast lobbyists and lawyers tried to chivvy the process along…

[Michael Brady, Vice-President of Regulatory Affairs of Comcast Cable] provided an overview of the status of the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) and other states’ approval of the transaction. He noted that almost all required state public utility commission (“PUC”) approvals of the transaction had been received and that the FCC clock was scheduled to expire in late March. [Chris MacDonald, Vice President of Government Affairs for the West Region] indicated that in the twelve states served by Comcast in its West Region, all required state approvals had been obtained except for the CPUC’s and that all required local approvals had been obtained except for one in Arizona, which was expected in February.

The other states in Comcast’s West Region are Arizona, Colorado. Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. But there are hold outs elsewhere, notably New York.

The FCC’s 180-day clock has stopped in the meantime, and in any event it’s just a guideline and not a guarantee.

It appears that most of the meetings were consumed by a laundry list of benefits Comcast claims will fall to California, if the deal is approved without conditions. The pitches happened less than a month before a proposed CPUC decision was released, which would lock in many of the perks that Comcast was waving around. No surprise, it’s a decision that Comcast vehemently objects to.