Charter-Time Warner Cable: Toward the Finish

NEW YORK — Charter Communications’ pending merger with Time Warner Cable continues to move toward the finish line, securing franchise transfer approval from the New York City Franchise and Concession Review Committee early last week (March 7) even as programmers lined up to criticize the deal.

Programmers are concerned about the combined company’s attitude toward online video — CEO Tom Rutledge has repeatedly said “New Charter” would be OVD’s “friend” — and companies like HBO have met with the Federal Communications Commission for reassurance the larger MSO won’t throttle back data speeds or favor certain providers.

Despite the noise, most analysts believe the deal will receive the necessary approvals with some conditions, and the FCC could circulate its decision by the end of the month.

Rutledge has said publicly the deal could close in May, around the time the California Public Utilities Commission should issue its preliminary decision, one of the last remaining hurdles the merger faces.

The stocks stayed relatively stable for the week, generally reflecting the overall confidence the deal will move to completion. Charter shares were up about 1.5% ($2.83 each) for the week to $187.61 while TWC share rose slightly (0.3%, or 54 cents) to $195.87 per share.