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Charter Tells FCC to Reject Zoom Deal Challenge

Charter has told the FCC that it needs to reject Zoom Telephonics' petition to reconsider the commission's approval of its merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

Zoom initially asked the FCC to deny the deal, primarily over the issue of access to third-party set-tops.

Once the deal was done, Zoom sought reconsideration, again over access to set-tops.

Since 2012, Charter has bundled the price of leasing its modems into the overall price of service, which Zoom has said gives customers no financial incentive to purchase their own devices. Zoom also petitioned the FCC to deny the Comcast-TWC deal over the issue, saying that if the FCC did approve that deal—it didn't—it should condition that approval on Charter stating an unsubsidized price for leasing cable modems and not “unreasonably” refusing to allow “nonharmful” modems to attach to its network.

Charter, in its response to the petition, which was due this week, said the Zoom petition should be denied because it seeks to reargue claims the FCC has already rejected.

"The Commission explained that Charter submitted evidence that its modem policies benefit the public because Charter’s modem rates are less expensive than the corresponding Time Warner Cable BIAS rates even before adding Time Warner Cable’s monthly modem rental fees," Charter told the FCC.

Charter also pointed out that the FCC did not address modem billing issues in the deal order because the commission said "they are more appropriately addressed in the pending industry-wide rulemaking proceeding on navigation devices.”

Charter appears to have no issue with the request by the American Cable Association and others representing smaller telecoms that the FCC reconsider its broadband overbuild/buildout condition on the deal.

It mentions that petition only in a footnote, thusly: "Additional petitions for reconsideration arguing that the Commission should eliminate the buildout and certain other conditions were filed by the American Cable Association, NTCA, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and UniTel. To the extent the FCC eliminates or relaxes any of the conditions based on those petitions, it should make clear that the Transaction remains in the public interest."

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.