Activists Prep Anti-Charter/TWC Testimony

Public interest groups were sharpening their knives, or at least arguments, as they prepared to go after the proposed Charter-TWC merger at a California public hearing Tuesday evening before a California Public Utilities Commission administrative law judge.

Such public hearings are a standard part of the state-by-state reviews of the impact of telecom mergers, but L.A. and New York are two of the last and the biggest. New York's PUC last week approved the deal with conditions.

At the L.A. hearing, Common Cause, Free Press and the National Hispanic Media Coalition planned to speak out against the merger as a virtual duopoly (with Comcast) over broadband access and pay video.

“Allowing two of America’s biggest cable companies to combine fails the most basic test: It does nothing to advance the public interest,” said Common Cause program director Todd O’Boyle in a statement in advance of the testimony. “Post-merger consumers would still lack choice. Programming diversity would decline. And over-the-top innovation would suffer. The CPUC should do the right thing and reject this proposal.”

Charter is expected to argue that the deal will lead to a stronger broadband competitor and an over-the-top-friendly corporate culture. “Charter is a different type of cable company—committed to creating American jobs, offering the most innovative products, delivering fast internet speeds, preserving an open internet and advancing online video friendly policies including no data caps and no modem fees," the company said last week.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.