The Federal Communications Commission and the federal justice department gave their conditional blessing yesterday to Charter Communications’ proposed purchase of Time Warner and Bright House cable systems. Links to the documents that have been published so far are below. The justice department’s settlement was based on its belief that the merger would reduce competition in the video distribution market. The FCC’s conditions deal with both broadband and television service.
The known highlights are…
No consumer data caps or usage-based pricing allowed for seven years.
Charter Communication’s purchase of Time Warner and Bright House cable systems in California should be approved if the company sticks to promises that it has made and to agreements it has reached with parties that previously opposed the deal. That’s the draft decision offered by Karl Bemesderfer, an administrative law judge with the California Public Utilities Commission.
Bemesderfer’s proposed decision will go to a vote of the full commission next month. In it, he says that the deal does have some negatives – greater market concentration, for example – but Charter’s promised upgrades and changes to the way it does business makes up for it…
Weighing Charter’s commitments to increased Internet speeds, increased numbers of wireless access points, less onerous contracts, more effective competition in the enterprise space, unbundling of services, equal treatment of content providers and greater diversity in hiring, contracting and programming, all of which will be made explicit conditions of approval of the Transaction, against the increase in concentration of the market for broadband Internet access without the threat of discrimination against competing content creators, we conclude that the benefits of the Transaction outweigh its drawbacks and the Transaction satisfies [the section of the public utilities code that says that such deals must “be beneficial on an overall basis to state and local economies, and to the communities in areas served by the utility”].
All indications are that Charter Communications has cut a deal with the Federal Communications Commission that will allow it to buy out Time Warner’s and Bright House’s cable systems, making it the second biggest U.S. cable company, after Comcast.
Major newspapers and wire services are floating stories that generally all jibe. Which means they’re either banging around in the same speculative echo chamber or the FCC sprung some leaks.… More
In a filing with the California Public Utilities Commission, Charter offered to upgrade 70,000 Californian homes from 1980s style analog-only TV service to full digital broadband and video capabilities. That includes systems in the Salinas Valley that it has committed to upgrade, as a result of a negotiated settlement with the City of Gonzales and Monterey County.… More
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.
…must convert their existing New York footprint to an all-digital network (including upgrading the Columbia County Charter cable systems to enable broadband communications) capable of delivering faster broadband speeds. The Petitioners will be required to offer all customers broadband speeds of up to 100 Mbps by the end of 2018 and 300 Mbps by the end of 2019.
The New York attorney general wants Time Warner, Cablevision and Verizon to explain how they manage they manage the Internet connections that they sell to consumers, and how they do business among themselves and with other telecommunications companies. Letters sent to the three companies point to the disconnect between what’s advertised, what’s sold and what’s actually delivered.
If you live in Watsonville, California, you can go to Charter Communications’ website and find a triple play package that gives you 60 Mbps download speeds, more than 200 channels of television, HD included, a digital video recorder and unlimited long distance calling for as little as $70 a month. There are strings attached at that price point, but it’s still a pretty good deal.
If you live in the Salinas Valley, 40 miles to the south in Gonzales, it’s a different story.… More
New Charter should be required to develop a strategic implementation plan to build-out its all-digital network to the remaining unserved or under-served Charter and Time Warner franchise areas in New York.