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New York State Bans Charter, Citing Continuous ‘Instances of Misconduct’

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New York State not only has revoked its approval of the 2016 merger of Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable, it has barred Charter, doing business as Spectrum, from operating in the state.

The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) handed down the decision Friday. It determined that Charter failed to deliver the benefits to New Yorkers that were “at the core of the merger approval.”

Charter is the largest cable provider in the state. It provides digital cable television, broadband internet and VoIP telephone service to more than 2 million subscribers.

According to the Commission, the various “instances of misconduct” include: repeated failures to meet deadlines; attempts to skirt obligations to serve rural communities; unsafe practices in the field; failure to fully commit to its obligations under the merger agreement; and “purposeful obfuscation” of its performance and compliance obligations to the Commission and its customers.

“Charter’s repeated failures to serve New Yorkers and honor its commitments are well documented and are only getting worse,” said John Rhodes, commission chair. “After more than a year of administrative enforcement efforts to bring Charter into compliance with the Commission’s merger order, the time has come for stronger actions to protect New Yorkers and the public interest. Charter’s noncompliance and brazenly disrespectful behavior toward New York State and its customers necessitates the actions taken today seeking court-ordered penalties for its failures, and revoking the Charter merger approval.”

The Commission seeks $3 million in penalties and directed its counsel to bring an enforcement action in State Supreme Court to seek additional penalties for Charter’s “past failures and ongoing noncompliance.”

“In the weeks leading up to an election, rhetoric often becomes politically charged,” reads a statement Charter released Friday. “But the fact is that Spectrum has extended the reach of our advanced broadband network to more than 86,000 New York homes and businesses since our merger agreement with the PSC. Our 11,000 diverse and locally based workers, who serve millions of customers in the state every day, remain focused on delivering faster and better broadband to more New Yorkers, as we promised.”

Julie Dzubay, WTG’s vice president of sales operations, said the announcement came as a surprise.

“We will have to rely heavily on Altice, BCN and the other broadband and connectivity providers in our portfolio for New York if indeed our partners are no longer able to access Charter/Spectrum services in that area,” she said.

Charter has 60 days to file a plan with the Commission to ensure what the governing body calls an “orderly transition to a successor provider(s).” During the transition process, Charter must continue to comply with all local franchises it holds in the state and all obligations under the Public Service Law and the Commission regulations, and must ensure no interruption in service is experienced by customers.

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