Charter-TWC Decision Said to Circulate Monday

The FCC and Charter were not commenting at press time, but the buzz around Washington and Wall Street was that the FCC Monday would finally be circulating its expected approval—with conditions—of the proposed Charter-Time Warner Cable-Bright House merger.

It has been a month since the 180-day informal shot clock on the deal expired, with the FCC said to have been hammering out the conditions under which it will allow the deal.

If the proposal is circulated, that means the chairman expects to be able to secure the votes to approve the merger.

BTIG Research blogged as much, pointing to an April 6 meeting between Charter and Tom Wheeler.

At that meeting, Charter CEO Tom Rutledge talked of the benefits of the deal in terms of expanding broadband, Charter's commitment to no usage-based pricing and to settlement-free interconnections, according to the filing. Those are all thought to be key conditions on the merger.

A California administrative law judge earlier this month recommended the state approve the deal, which would be the last big regulatory hurdle. The California Public Utilities Commission could vote on that recommendation as early as May 12.

Charter has said the deal will make it the third largest MVPD, serving about 17% of subs nationwide, behind Comcast at 22% and DirecTV aty 20%.

In broadband, it will be the number two wireline Internet provider at 19.4 million subs versus 22 million for Comcast  (AT&T is third at 16 million and Verizon fourth at 9.2 million).

The deal is a way for the FCC to put conditions related to over-the-top video access, broadband buildouts and more on all those subs.

Charter has already promised to abide by the FCC's Open Internet order no matter what a court does, so the deal was a way to extend that to Time Warner Cable and Bright House as well. It has also promised to extend its policies of no usage-based pricing and settlement-free peering to the New Charter.

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.