Common Cause Urges Charter-TWC Rejection

Even as multiple reports, including one in Multichannel News, have FCC chairman Tom Wheeler likely to propose approving the Charter Communications-Time Warner Cable deal with various conditions, including ones on access to over-the-top content and broadband buildouts, Common Cause was pushing back, calling on the FCC to change course, "step back" and reject the deal.

Demand Progress was also demanding that progress not be made toward approval.

"Sure, Charter may paint a rosy picture and may promise a number of public-interest concessions, but I've been through enough cable mergers to know that those promises are rarely kept," said former FCC chairman Mike Copps, now a special advisor to Common Cause. Copps was a strong opponent of media consolidation in his days on the commission.

"The FCC should reject this merger with dispatch, and recommit to chairman Wheeler's stated mantra of 'competition, competition, competition,’" Copps said.

Wheeler is expected to circulate the item before the informal 180-day shot clock on merger reviews reaches that figure next week. It is, as of March 17, on day 172.

Joining the effort to stem the approval tide was consolidation critic Demand Progress, which suggested conditions did not sweeten the deal.

“If this merger goes through, Big Cable will see even bigger profits, while American consumers will be stuck with higher prices and fewer options," said Demand Progress executive director David Segal. "And weak, unworkable and unenforceable conditions on the merger won't change that."

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.