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Today, Charter Communications filed a public interest statement with the Federal Communications Commission to seek approval of license transfers arising from Charter’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable and acquisition of Bright House Networks. The company claims the merger will launch “New Charter” as an “advanced, growth-oriented” Internet Service Provider. Public Knowledge acknowledges Charter’s efforts in transparency and believes the initial commitments in this document offer hope that public interest concerns can be worked out as the merger review process proceeds.
The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge:
“Although we still have concerns about a merger that would make the broadband market even more concentrated, Charter's public interest statement contains some promising statements about how the company would behave with respect to the Open Internet, data caps and usage-based pricing and interconnection. If properly enforced, commitments of this sort could alleviate many of the potential harms (particularly, harms to online video) a large cable merger like this could create.
“However, after the merger, Charter might be able to use its power in other ways to restrict online availability of content and to control what devices people can use to access cable programming. Additionally, policymakers will have to examine Charter's broadband upgrade and build-out plans more carefully to determine if there is a sufficient public interest benefit.
“Charter has been at pains to emphasize how it is different than Comcast. But this merger must be judged on its own merits -- it can't get a free pass simply because other, failed mergers would arguably have been worse. We look forward to discussing our concerns with Charter and relevant policymakers moving forward.”