DOJ, FCC Chairman Clear Path for Charter-Time Warner Cable Merger


Charter Communications has been given clearance by the Department of Justice under a settlement to complete its $78 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable, the second-largest U.S. cable company, and its related acquisition of Bright House Networks.

Approval of the mega-merger comes with conditions, since the government filed an antitrust lawsuit over concerns that the new company would have a greater incentive and ability to impose restrictions on programmers, limiting their ability to show content through online video distributors.

The proposed settlement, if approved by the federal court in Washington, D.C., would resolve the alleged harm stemming from the merger, the Justice Department said. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler also has recommended approval of Charter’s acquisitions in an order that was distributed Monday to his colleagues.{ad}

“As proposed, the order outlines a number of conditions in place for seven years that will directly benefit consumers by bringing and protecting competition to the video marketplace and increasing broadband deployment,” Wheeler said in a statement.

The combination of Charter, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks would create the second-largest cable company and third-largest multi-channel video programming distributor in the United States, with more than 17 million video subscribers, according to the Justice Department.

The California Public Utilities Commission still must approve the merger.

“We are confident New Charter will be a leading competitor in the broadband and video markets and are optimistic that we will soon receive final approval from federal regulators as well as the California PUC,” Charter said.

The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW), which has vigorously opposed the merger of the cable giants, had a mixed reaction to the news Monday.

“The WGAW does not believe the merger of Charter, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks is in the public interest,” the industry association said. “However, we commend the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission for recognizing the harm to video competition presented by the merger and for imposing conditions to limit anticompetitive behavior.”

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