NY moves to break up Charter’s merger with Time Warner Cable

Joshua Bennett
July 29, 2018

It provides digital cable television, broadband internet and VoIP telephone service to more than two million subscribers in NY state in more than 1,150 communities, with a potential customer base of five million households in its franchise areas.

The commission states Charter failed to uphold promises and follow regulations that were set in place during the Time Warner Cable merger. One solution could see Charter spinning off its NY division; it's also possible that the division could be sold to someone else. NY is giving Charter a 60-day grace period to continue operating in the state to provide service to customers, and during the time it must aid in helping to find a replacement service provider and to help ease the transition process.

The problems that led to today's move allegedly began in 2016, when the state approved Charter's merger with Time Warner Cable.

Commission Chair John Rhodes said in a statement that "Charter's repeated failures to serve New Yorkers and honor its commitments are well documented and are only getting worse. Our 11,000 diverse and locally based workers, who serve millions of customers in the state every day, remain focused on delivering faster and better broadband to more New Yorkers, as we promised".

The PSC accused Charter of repeatedly failing to meet deadlines, not filling its obligations to serve rural communities and "purposeful obfuscation of its performance".

Charter says it has extended broadband service to 86,000 homes and businesses.

Charter also must pay the commission another $1 million in fines, on top of $2 million already paid.

That pledge was one of the "most critical" conditions attached to the merger approval, the commission argued in an order posted online Friday.

UPDATE: Charter told Ars that it plans to fight the PSC's order to sell the former Time Warner Cable system. The PSC said it is ordering Charter to sell the former TWC system that it purchased in NY, and it's "bring [ing] an enforcement action in State Supreme Court to seek additional penalties for Charter's past failures and ongoing non-compliance".

Charter is ordered to file within 60 days a plan with the commission to ensure an orderly transition to a successor provider (s). Charter's claims are simply false and the Commission will not stand idly by while Charter deceives the public and its shareholders.

Charter Communications is the largest broadband communications company and second-largest cable operator in the nation. The company said it has extended its advanced broadband network to more than 86,000 NY homes and businesses since the merger agreement and is focused on continuing that work.

Further, PSC charged in its order Friday that some of the work Charter has done is unsafe, has caused damage to surrounding equipment, or does not comply with electrical codes.

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