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The merger of Charter Communications with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks is imminent, as the companies cleared the final hurdle Thursday when California regulators voted their approval.
The FCC approved the deal a week ago, and other regulators also signaled their satisfaction after Charter made several pro-competition concessions, and the companies needed only the California Public Utilities Commission to bless the merger, valued at just under $80 billion.
That regulatory body voted unanimously Thursday to approve the transfer of phone licenses in California, setting the stage for the merger to close probably within a week.
One condition Charter agreed to was that it would not launch usage-based broadband pricing or impose data caps or charge interconnection fees, while another concession “outlaws video programming terms that could harm” internet video services. Such rules are designed to protect online streamers like Amazon.com and Hulu, as well as their customers.
Charter made its offer for TWC and Bright House a year ago, shortly after Comcast pulled its offer to acquire TWC, a deal that might not have passed regulatory scrutiny because it would have resulted in a cable behemoth that detractors were calling a “monopoly.”
Instead, once Charter’s acquisition of TWC and Bright House is consummated, the new entity will be the country’s No. 2 cable operator, behind Comcast, and No. 3 pay TV operator, closely behind AT&T/DirecTV.
Analysts say the merged Charter-TWC-Bright House will have 15 percent of the nation’s pay TV subscribers and 22 percent of its broadband internet subscribers.
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