Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

State revokes approval for Charter-TWC merger

New York regulators and the cable giant have been locked in a battle over the rollout of broadband internet in rural parts of the state State revokes approval for Charter-TWC merger
Lindsey Cook | 30 July, 2018, 02:37

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.

Concluding that Charter "was not interested in being a good corporate citizen" and that the Commission could no longer allow it to operate in NY, the PSC stated its actions address the failings and are meant "to ensure NY has a partner interested in the public good, not just lining its pockets".

To obtain approval in New York, Charter agreed to extend its high-speed broadband network to 145,000 unserved or under-served homes and businesses over four years.

At an unrelated news conference after the decision, Cuomo said Charter had repeatedly refused the state's efforts to hold it responsible.

Company Spectrum - the largest in the state provider of cable, Internet and phone services, with more than two million NY subscribers in Manhattan, Staten island, Queens and parts of Brooklyn, as well as in such major cities of the state like Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany. "Charter's noncompliance and brazenly disrespectful behavior toward NY state and its customers necessitates the actions taken today seeking court-ordered penalties for its failures, and revoking the Charter merger approval".

As reported by the PSC chair John B. Rhodes, Charter Communications more than a year has avoided these and other conditions, so "the time has come for more decisive action to protect the people of new York".

The commission invalidated more than 18,000 addresses Charter was counting toward the total number, with most of those being New York City addresses the commission says hardly count as "less-densely populated" areas.

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The reversal, handed down Friday by the New York State Public Service Commission, means that Spectrum could soon be forced to spin off its Time Warner Cable division in New York, potentially affecting more than 2.5 million subscribers across the state. "But the fact is that Spectrum has extended the reach of our advanced broadband network to more than 86,000 NY homes and businesses since our merger agreement".

"With its decision", the release said, "the Commission determined that Charter failed to deliver the benefits to New Yorkers that were at the core of the merger approval".

As well, the PSC said, "despite missing every network expansion target since the merger was approved in 2016, Charter has falsely claimed in advertisements it is exceeding its commitments to the state and is on track to deliver its network expansion".

Although New York wants Spectrum out immediately, they are required to remain in the state until New York state can find another service provider to fully replace Spectrum.

As a result, the commission's general counsel referred a false-advertising claim to the Attorney General's Office.

The state has two months to pick a successor company to take over Charter's service, according to The New York Post.

Spectrum provides Cable TV, Internet and Voice Over Internet telephone service to much of Orange County and portions of Ulster and Dutchess counties.

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