The Charter/Time Warner Cable/Bright House Networks mega-merger has passed antitrust scrutiny with the US Department of Justice and the FCC, both of which are imposing conditions on what will be the New Charter.
In conjunction with the DoJ, specific FCC conditions will focus on removing unfair barriers to video competition. First, New Charter will not be permitted to charge usage-based prices or impose data caps. Second, it will be prohibited from charging interconnection fees, including to online video providers, which deliver large volumes of internet traffic to broadband customers.
Additionally, the Department of Justice’s settlement with New Charter both outlaws video programming terms that could harm online video providers and protects them from retaliation.
All three of these will be seven-year conditions meant to provide additional protection for new forms of video programming services offered over the Internet.
“Based on imposed conditions that will ensure a competitive video marketplace and increase broadband deployment, an order recommending that the Charter/Time Warner Cable/Bright House Networks transaction be approved has circulated to the Commissioners,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “As proposed, the order outlines a number of conditions in place for seven years that will directly benefit consumers by bringing and protecting competition to the video marketplace and increasing broadband deployment.”
The conditions also include a provision that the New Charter build an additional two million customer locations out with high-speed Internet connections (25Mbps or faster). At least one million of those connections must be in direct competition with another high-speed broadband provider in the market served, bringing competition and, the FCC said, demonstrating “the viability of one broadband provider overbuilding another.”
“Importantly, we will require an independent monitor to help ensure compliance with these and other proposed conditions,” Wheeler said. “These strong measures will protect consumers, expand high-speed broadband availability, and increase competition.”
The other FCC Commissioners will need to approve the transaction before the merger is officially fully greenlit.