April 26, 2016
The proposed merger of Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR), Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) and Bright House Networks has edged a couple steps closer to becoming reality.
The U.S. Department of Justice has completed its review of the proposed transaction and recommended approval, and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has circulated an order to the rest of the FCC commissioners recommending approval, subject to several conditions. The proposed conditions, to last seven years, include:
- No usage-based prices or data caps
- No interconnection fees, including to online video providers
- No video programming terms that could harm OVDs
- An independent monitor to help ensure compliance
Wheeler's statement said, in part, "These strong measures will protect consumers, expand high-speed broadband availability, and increase competition."
TWC Chairman and CEO Rob Marcus said, "We are pleased to reach this critical step in the regulatory review of our merger with Charter, and remain optimistic that the transaction will be finalized soon."
Charter's official statement said: "We are pleased that Chairman Wheeler has submitted the proposed conditions for consideration by the full Commission and that the DOJ has submitted its agreement for approval by the court. The conditions that will be imposed ensure Charter's current consumer-friendly and pro-broadband businesses practices will be maintained by New Charter. 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."
The on again, off again deal has been in the making for several years. Charter initially tried to buy TWC in January 2014, but TWC didn't like the offer and declined. Then Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) stepped up with a bid to buy TWC, but that deal fell through last April because of regulatory resistance. Charter then tried again last May, wending its eventual way to the deal in its current form.