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FCC Seeks Data Dump From Charter, TWC, Bright House

With its protective orders for handling sensitive business information now set, the FCC this week asked Charter and Time Warner Cable and Bright House for a raft of information related to their proposed merger, including contracts, emails, and spread sheets. 

The FCC was holding off on the request until it voted out the protective orders on how to handle sharing some of that information with third parties, including competitors and public interest groups.

"[W]e require additional information, documents, and clarifications of certain matters discussed in the applications and other information submitted to the Commission," Media Bureau chief Bill Lake wrote in a letter to each of the companies.

The FCC wants to drill down on a host of issues, including New Charter's plans for expanding Wi-Fi hotspots, and for boosting Time Warner Cable and Bright House baseline broadband speeds, as well as lots of questions about over-the-top video.

It also asks the company to defend its interconnection practices, including providing paid peering agreements and communications with Netflix, Cogent, Level 3, Akamai, Limelight and Google pertaining to their interconnection negotiations. It also wants the company to defend its assertion that New Charter would be willing to promote OVDs because it was in the company's interest.

The FCC wants to know when Charter adopted bandwidth usage caps, when it dropped them, and why.

There are requests for info on carriage of regional sports networks, plans for set-top boxes and allowing use of third-party aps on the boxes. The bureau asks how they will insure that John Malone, Liberty Broadband, and Advance/Newhouse will not protect their stake in New Charter by withholding programming from traditional or over-the-top competitors.

And those are just some of the 35 pages worth of information the FCC says it wants. That may not be the end of it, either. "If necessary, we will follow up with additional requests for information and documents," the FCC said.

The bureau has given the companies until Oct. 13 to provide the information.

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.