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Dish Asks FCC to Deny Charter/TWC

Dish has asked the FCC to reject the Charter/Time Warner Cable merger.

In a petition filed today (Oct. 13), the satellite operator pointed to the "potential for the merger to significantly damage competitive development of over-the-top (OTT) video and limit consumer access to online video programming."

Joining with Dish was Roger Lynch, CEO of Sling TV, who included in the petition this declaration: “I believe that the proposed merger.... would cause significant and irreparable harm to emerging competitive online video products and services, as well as the performance of traditional satellite television service, ultimately reducing competition and choice for consumers. 

Accordingly, I believe that the merger as currently constructed is not in the public interest and should be denied.”

Dish says that the problems with the deal cannot be remedied with conditions, but if the FCC disagrees, those conditions should include prohibiting the merged company from "restricting the ability of third-party programmers to grant online rights to OVDs," and should require it to unbundle its broadcast services by offering residential stand-alone services and bundle its broadband with competing MVPD and OVD services.

In addition, it should have to abide by the FCC's Open Internet order regardless of whether or not it is overturned by the court.

"In short, this merger would empower New Charter to degrade the performance of rival OVDs and MVPDs in the knowledge that it is either extremely unlikely or downright impossible for New Charter’s broadband subscribers to punish it by migrating to another high-speed ISP," said Dish. "As presented by the Applicants, the Commission should deny this merger."

“Charter’s proposed transactions with Time Warner Cable (TWC) and Bright House Networks (BHN) is receiving broad support," said the company in a statement. "To date, there are hundreds of positive comments filed with the FCC from a broad and diverse array of voices, including Netflix; civil rights groups like the Hispanic Leadership Alliance; independent programmers TV One, Bounce TV Fuse (formerly Nuvo) and One World Sports, as well as from dozens of local businesses and community organizations.

"We recognize that there are also parties who challenge the benefits of the proposed transactions. We are listening to them and have addressed many of the issues they have raised with commitments such as those about expanding access to fast broadband, preserving an Open Internet and investing in interconnection, enhancing customer service by adding more highly trained employees for our call centers and field technician operations. We look forward to continued engagement with regulators, interested parties and members of the communities we serve about the significant public interest benefits of the transactions.”

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.