Charter Poised to Close TWC, Bright House Acquisitions

**Editor’s Note: Please click here for a recap of the biggest channel-impacting mergers in March-April 2016.**

Three cable giants are about to become one.

Charter Communications has cleared all regulatory hurdles to become the No. 2 U.S. cable company, behind only Comcast.

The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday approved Charter’s $78 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable, the second-largest cable provider, and its related $10.4 billion acquisition of Bright House Networks.{ad}

Stamford, Connecticut-based Charter said it anticipates closing the transactions next week.

The combination of Charter, Time Warner Cable (TWC) and Bright House Networks will 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 U.S. Department of Justice.

In order to secure regulatory approvals from the Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission, Charter agreed to a number of merger conditions, which include expansion of broadband services to millions of additional locations.

Although the government said 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 Justice Department reached a settlement with Charter to address alleged harms stemming from the merger.

The Federal Communications Commission also found the combination of Charter and TWC would potentially harm the public interest without certain conditions, including one that prevents Charter for seven years from imposing so-called data caps or charging usage-based pricing for its residential broadband service.

“Today, Charter is a medium-sized company. Once the transaction with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks closes, New Charter will be a far larger company facing different incentives and possessing different abilities that could lead it to hamper or prevent its current and future online video rivals from expanding, becoming more competitive, or starting up in the first place,” the FCC noted in its order approving the transactions with conditions.

Ajit Pai, a Republican commissioner at the FCC, criticized the majority as using the deal as a “vehicle for advancing its ambitious agenda to micromanage the Internet economy.”

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