NYS PSC Approves Altice, Cablevision Merger

The New York State Public Service Commission has approved, with conditions, Altice, N.V.’s $17.7 billion purchase of Cablevision Systems, the final hurdle in a deal that was announced in September.

The PSC unanimously approved the deal with conditions, including providing low cost broadband to lower income families, and customer service and job protections.

Altice, which purchased Suddenlink Communications for $9.1 billion in December, had announced the Cablevision purchase in September. With the addition of Cablevision’s 3.1 million customers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, Altice has about 4.6 million customers in the United States.

The New York PSC was the final hurdle for the deal to clear – the Federal Communications Commission quietly approved the deal in May, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved it later that month.

According to the PSC, the conditions on the deal represent about $243 million in benefits to New Yorkers, including promises to upgrade the broadband infrastructure, creating a new low-income broadband program, building out its network in unserved areas and providing about $40 million in additional benefits by participating in a new federal broadband affordability program.

Altice has pledged to triple the speed of its network to 300 Mbps by the end of 2017, increase high-speed broadband access in rural and urban communities in its service territory, provide new low-income broadband offerings and deliver free broadband Internet access to 40 anchor institutions in unserved or underserved areas. The company also will provide a robust storm-resiliency initiative for Long Island and the rest of its service territory. The company also has pledged not to lay off any custoimer-facing employees for four years.

“As a result of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s strengthening of our oversight of the sale of cable companies, we were able to put in place rigorous conditions on the transaction to ensure it was in the best interest of customers and the State as a whole,” said Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman in a statement. “With our decision today, we will see a significant investment in New York’s communication landscape that improves quality, reliability, speed and affordability for Cablevision’s customers.”   

With New York regulators’ approval in hand, Altice said it is on track to close the deal by the end of June.

“Altice is pleased to have obtained approval from the New York State Public Service Commission for the acquisition of Cablevision,” Altice said in a statement. “This follows approvals received from the Federal Communications Commission, the Department of Justice, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and 67 local municipalities. We remain on track to closing the transaction as expected.”