FCC chairman backs TWC-Charter merger

Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission, has recommended that the regulator should approve the proposed merger of Charter Communications and fellow pay-television operator Time Warner Cable.

In May last year, Charter announced a deal to acquire TWC in an agreement valued at $78.7bn (€73bn). Charter said the deal, between the second and third largest cable-television operators in the US, would provide greater competition for market leader Comcast.

The proposed merger was approved by shareholders of both companies as well as most US states, but was still awaiting clearance from the FCC.

The Department of Justice has also given the green light to the deal but, along with the FCC, imposed a number of conditions.

One of the conditions is that Charter will be prohibited from entering into or enforcing any agreement with a broadcaster that forbids or limits their distribution of content to an online video provider.

“As proposed, the order outlines a number of conditions in place for seven years that will directly benefit consumers by bringing and protecting competition to the video marketplace and increasing broadband deployment,” Wheeler said. “If the conditions are approved by my colleagues, an additional two million customer locations will have access to a high-speed connection. At least one million of those connections will be in competition with another high-speed broadband provider in the market served, bringing innovation and new choices for consumers, and demonstrate the viability of one broadband provider overbuilding another.”

The merger still requires the approval of California’s Public Utilities Commission. A final decision is expected by May 12.

“The conditions that will be imposed ensure Charter‘s current consumer-friendly and pro-broadband businesses practices will be maintained,” Charter said. “We are confident New Charter will be a leading competitor in the broadband and video markets and are optimistic that we will soon receive final approval from federal regulators as well as the California PUC.”

TWC's sports properties include a 25-year deal, from 2014 to 2038, for the media rights to MLB baseball franchise the Los Angeles Dodgers.