Charter's Rutledge Meets With FCC's Wheeler

With the Charter/Time Warner Cable merger ticking well past its late March informal 180-day deadline for a decision (it is in day 198), and past when many had expected the deal to be approved with conditions, Charter CEO Tom Rutledge met with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler last week to talk up the deal.

Also in the April 6 meeting was FCC general counsel John Sallet, according to an ex parte filing from the commission.

The longer the deal goes undone, the millions more it costs to service the debt to do the deal, so Charter is certainly eager to have it closed from the regulatory end, presuming that is still the way it is going.

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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. Those are all thought to be key conditions on the merger.

Two weeks ago Rutledge signaled that he is squarely behind Wheeler's proposal to reform Lifeline subsidies.

Related: Wheeler—Video Competition Threatened By Pay TV Providers

Charter announced as part of that proposed TWC deal that it would offer a new low cost broadband service for low income consumers if the deal is approved.

The Charter/TWC decision had not been circulated at press time, according to an FCC source.

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.