FCC majority backs Charter purchase of Time Warner Cable

A majority of the five-member U.S. Federal Communications Commission has voted to approve Charter Communications Inc acquisition of Time Warner Cable Inc and Bright House networks, which would create the second-largest U.S. broadband provider and third-largest video provider, two sources briefed on the matter said Thursday.

FCC Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Michael O’Rielly earlier this week joined FCC chairman Tom Wheeler in voting to approve the deals, the sources said. O’Rielly dissented in part, meaning the final conditions of the approval could change before the full vote is completed and made public. The U.S. Justice Department approved the acquisitions with conditions on April 25.

chartertwc_small FCC majority backs Charter purchase of Time Warner Cable

Charter Communications Inc.’s purchase of Time Warner Cable Inc. has won approval from a majority at the Federal Communications Commission, a person familiar with the vote said. The development leaves assent from California as the final regulatory hurdle for the $55.1 billion deal.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler last week publicly supported the deal, and it has since gained approval from two more members of the five-person FCC in voting conducted in private, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the result hasn’t been made public. There’s no schedule for the remaining commissioners to vote on the deal; after they do so the agency can publish the result. Shannon Gilson, a spokeswoman for the FCC, declined to comment.

Justice Department antitrust officials earlier said they had approved the merger to create a company with 24 million customers in 41 states.

The Justice Department and FCC

set restrictions
designed to prevent Charter from interfering with online video that competes with cable channel entertainment packages.

The enlarged Charter would supplant Time Warner Cable as the second-largest U.S. cable operator, gaining 13 million customers in cities including New York, Los Angeles and Dallas.

Charter last year agreed to acquire New York-based Time Warner Cable and

Bright House Networks LLC
, a cable company based in Syracuse, New York, for $55.1 billion and $10.4 billion, respectively, according to prices at the time. The deal came together after top U.S. cable provider Comcast Corp.’s plan to buy Time Warner Cable collapsed amid opposition from regulators concerned over Comcast’s control of broadband.

California regulators are to vote on Charter’s merger May 12, and the deal could close within days of approval there, Charter Chief Executive Officer Tom Rutledge told investors April 28.