Charter Gets Final Approval To Acquire Time Warner Cable

Charter's bid to acquire Time Warner cleared its final regulatory hurdle Thursday, when regulators on the California Public Utility Commission approved the $55 billion deal.

The Federal Communications Commission okayed the deal last week, while regulators in New Jersey and New York approved the acquisition earlier this year.

Charter also is expected to purchase Bright House Networks. When both mergers close, the company's broadband footprint will be extended to around 30% of the country. Charter and Comcast combined will control around 70% of U.S. Internet connections faster than 25 Mbps -- the FCC's current definition of broadband.



Although the FCC approved the deal, the agency's order, unveiled this week, indicates that regulators are wary of the company's control over broadband connections.

"We conclude that the transaction will materially alter the Applicants’ incentives and abilities in ways that are potentially harmful to the public interest," the final order states.

The FCC then lists several ways the company -- to be called "New Charter" after the mergers close -- could thwart competition from over-the-top online video distributors.

"New Charter’s increased broadband footprint and desire to protect its video profits will increase incentives to impose data caps and usage-based prices in order to make watching online video more expensive, and in particular more expensive than subscribing to a traditional pay-TV bundle," the FCC says in the order.

The agency adds that the merged company will have the "incentive and ability" to raise prices on online video distributors that interconnect with its network.

The FCC's order provides that for the next seven years Charter won't be able to impose data caps or charge subscribers based on the amount of data they consume. It also won't be allowed to charge Netflix and other companies extra fees to "interconnect" directly with Charter's servers. In addition, the company will be unable to impose programming terms that could harm over-the-top online video distributors.

Next story loading loading..