FCC leaning toward allowing Charter to buy Time Warner

17 March 2016 by Steve Blum
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Word is beginning to leak out of the Federal Communications Commission that Charter Communications’ pending purchase of Time Warner and Bright House cable systems will get a green light from regulators. According to Politico, there are serious discussions going on regarding conditions that would be attached to federal approvals

The latest development shows the Charter deal is further along the path than Comcast’s failed $45 billion bid for Time Warner Cable, which never reached the point where regulators seriously considered conditions, the sources said. Comcast dropped its deal in April 2015 after encountering resistance from regulators.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the conditions under discussion involve access to online video and requirements for Charter to build digital infrastructure areas where it doesn’t already provide broadband service.

The FCC and the federal justice department have to sign off on the deal. There’s a self-imposed deadline on the FCC’s review that’s looming closer. Although the FCC can extend it – the deadline is really more like a guideline – it does seem to be having the intended effect of concentrating minds.

Charter also needs an okay from the California Public Utilities Commission. A draft decision is expected in mid-April, with a final vote by the CPUC following in May. Negotiations are continuing between Charter and groups that oppose the transaction. Agreement has already been reached with the City of Gonzales and Monterey County – Charter will upgrade its analog-only cable systems to full digital broadband and video capabilities within three years, if the Time Warner/Bright House purchase goes through.

I’m assisting the City of Gonzales with its efforts at the CPUC and its negotiations with Charter. I am not a disinterested commentator. Take it for what it’s worth.