Charter Communications won U.S. antitrust approval for its $55 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable after agreeing not to thwart online video competitors. Bloomberg
The Federal Communications Commission has voted to approve Charter Communications' $79 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, an expected move that clears the way for the companies to integrate their assets to create the world’s second largest cable TV and Internet provider, the FCC announced Friday.
The 5-member commission voted 4-1, with FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai the lone nay vote.
Late last month, the Justice Department and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler signed off on their approval of Charter’s merger with Time Warner Cable, leading the commissioners’ vote. Wheeler’s recommendation to approve the merger came with several conditions that are instituted for up to seven years. The company must refrain from imposing usage-based pricing and capping customers’ monthly data use.
The other conditions: Charter cannot charge online video streaming companies, such as Netflix, for improved delivery of content; Charter cannot institute any policies that would prevent online video providers from delivering content to consumers through Charter's networks or serve as retaliation against such providers; and the new Charter will expand its high-speed broadband service to two million more homes.
“These efforts to protect consumers and emerging competition should be viewed in the context of an FCC and an Administration that is working to promote the public interest in broadband and video competition, programming diversity, and consumer choice in a number of ways,” said John Bergmayer, senior staff attorney at consumer technology advocacy group Public Knowledge.