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GOP Reps Back Charter, TWC

Originally appeared in Broadcasting and Cable

By: John Eggerton

March 10, 2016

As the FCC and DOJ drilldown on a decision, expected as early as two weeks from now, on whether or not to approve or deny the Charter/Time Warner Cable merger, a quintet of Republican legislators want to help them make the decision.

In letters to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the five, all members of the house Energy & Commerce Committee, said that they had been following the transaction closely, that it had “significant public interest benefits, and that they urged “swift approval.”

Read more here.

 

Charter Blogs Back at OTT Critics

Originally appeared in Multichannel News
By: John Eggerton
March 7, 2016

Says Its OTT-Friendliness Is Genuine and Makes Business Sens

Charter took to the blogosphere Monday to push back on the allegations it is OTT-unfriendly, saying it was a case of competitors trying to get unnecessary conditions on the deal to serve their own businesses interests.

As the FCC vets its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable, deal opponents have been leveling that charge, and using Charter CEO Tom Rutledge and Liberty Media chairman John Malone’s past statements to try and make that the deal could ““harm the continued development of over-the-top video broadband competition.”

According to an ex parte filing on the meeting, representatives of Time Warner (no longer the parent of Time Warner Cable) and HBO met with FCC staffers March 2, the second such meeting over the OTT issue, to drive home that point as the FCC approaches its self-imposed 180-day deadline for completing its deal review.

The first meeting was held back in January.

In a blog post Monday (March 7), Charter said: “Our overriding principle is that consumers should be able to watch the content they want – wherever and whenever they want to watch it – including content offered OTT.”

Read more here.

Charter Tells FCC of Commitment to Net Neutrality Regardless of Legal Intrigue

Originally appeared in The Hollywood Reporter
By Eriq Gardner

The cable giant also says its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable will benefit online video providers like Netflix.

If a $55 billion merger between Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable is completed, the marriage will result in a bigger company that commands about 15 percent of the nation’s cable and satellite subscribers and 22 percent of its broadband subscribers.

Naturally, concern about the ramifications of consolidation has ensued. This week, Charter answered its critics with a filing at the FCC that among other things, stresses its commitment to the principles of net neutrality.

“New Charter will not block or throttle Internet traffic or engage in paid prioritization, regardless of the outcome of the litigation over the Open Internet Order,” says Charter, referring to the FCC’s decision to reclassify internet service as a utility under Title II of the Telecommunications Act and the subsequent and pending legal challenges made by companies including AT&T and Alamo Broadband.

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New Charter Fights Back Against Deal Critics

New Charter Fights Back Against Deal Critics
Originally appears in Multichannel news
By John Eggerton

Cites Reasons TWC-BHN Deal Not a Threat to Competition

Charter has told the FCC just how wrong those trying to block its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House are about what the resulting company, New Charter, would look like.

In a joint filing with the FCC Tuesday (Nov. 3) responding to petitions to deny the merger, Charter and the other merging parties said the new company would not harm video competition and that proposed unbundling and wholesale access conditions — opponents usually include what the FCC should do to “limit harms” if it does approve the deal — would be harmful.

The companies said concerns about foreclosure of competing MVPDs or online video distributors (OVDs) and any harm to the set-top-box market are similarly misplaced. It said that debt leverage should not be a concern, that they are committed to diversity–Charter is currently negotiating a memorandum of understanding to that effect with the National Hispanic Media Coalition, for example–and that the transaction will benefit low-income households.

Charter et al. said the deal will expand and improve broadband, provide advanced video options and expanding Charter’s “industry-leading commitment to an open Internet.” Charter has said it would abide by new Open Internet rules regardless of their legal fate, just as Comcast pledged in its NBCU deal.

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Who Has Charter’s Back?

Originally appears in CableFAX
By Amy Maclean
October 23, 2015

We’ve told you about DISH, Public Knowledge, Entravision and others who don’t like the Charter-Time Warner Cable-Bright House deals and have filed petitions at the FCC to deny it. Then there are those like ACA, AT&T, UP and Aspire who have stopped short of opposing the merger, but have raised concerns. But who is standing up and supporting the deal?

RFD-TV, for one. The rural TV network is a nice backer to have considering that founder Patrick Gottsch told Congress during Comcast-Time Warner Cable hearings last year that the indie net lost almost 400K households after Comcast pulled its distribution in Colorado and New Mexico. Execs from RFD-TV are actually in DC this week discussing the positive relationship the programmer has had with Charter and its support of the pending transactions. It even took out a full-page ad in Wednesday’s Washington Post (see a glimpse of the ad above).

“This is a totally different situation compared to the previous takeover attempt as roles are reversed with the smaller rural cable company merging with the larger urban clustered entities,” Gottsch said in a statement.

Other companies that are giving the deals thumbs up include Arris and Herring Networks.

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Charter Lineup Joins Roku

Originally appeared on Broadcasting & Cable
By: John Eggerton & Jeff Baumgartner
October 12, 2015

Charter’s OTT-friendliness, which has been one of its major selling points in Washington for a proposed Time Warner Cable merger, just got friendlier.

Charter president Tom Rutledge said Monday (Oct. 12) that its customers would be able to use Roku devices to access TV content on any Roku-connected screen in the house using the Spectrum TV app, which means the device will offer cable channels alongside streamed over-the-top (OTT) online content on those sets.

“We congratulate Charter on embracing consumers’ desire to stream the video they want,” said Andrew Ferrone, VP of pay TV at Roku, in announcing the agreement to make the Spectrum TV app a channel on the Roku platform.

The announcement also dovetails with cable operator arguments to the FCC that the marketplace is wedding traditional and new online video content.

“We will continue to add greater functionality to the channel on Roku devices, including On Demand, and plan to make Spectrum TV available on additional consumer electronic set-top boxes and screens,” said Rutledge in a statement.

Charter said Spectrum TV will be available on Roku streaming players, its Streaming Stick and Roku TVs. The Spectrum TV app is also available on iOS and Android devices.

According to Parks Associates figures, Roku was the clear leader in streaming devices in 2014 with 29% of U.S. sales.

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RFD-TV: Charter Will Expand Distribution

Originally appears in Broadcasting & Cable
By: John Eggerton
September 29, 2015

Adds channel to entire footprint, including major urban markets

According to RFD-TV, Charter TV has struck a deal to expand carriage of the rural-targeted program network in the remainder of the company’s footprint where RFD-TV is not carried, which includes such major urban markets as Los Angeles, Atlanta, St. Louis and Sacramento.

The rollout kicks in next month.

“We’ve crossed into some uncharted territory as a network, and this incremental growth with Charter enables millions more potential viewers to come along with us,” said RFD-TV owner Rural Media Group President Patrick Gottsch. “I am extremely grateful to the executive team at Charter. They took the time to hear us out and agreed that our service added value to their entire footprint Charter is currently trying to get its merger with Time Warner Cable improved by regulators, so expanding its carriage deal with a rural-targeted independent programmer couldn’t hurt. And could actually help.

AT&T struck a deal with RFD-TV while it was trying to get its DirecTV deal approved, and after RFD-TV and its fans pushed the FCC to make carriage of the channel a condition of the merger. (http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/washington/att-carry-rfd-tv/133758).

RFD channel got some high-profile attention in Hill hearings on the AT&T/DirecTV and Comcast/Time Warner Cable deals from legislators concerned about large media companies’ carriage of rural-themed programming. (http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/washington/att-carry-rfd-tv/133758).

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FCC starts 180-day countdown to review Charter-Time Warner Cable merger

Originally appears in Reuters
By: Alina Selyukh, Lisa Lambert
September 11, 2015

U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Friday started a non-binding 180-day countdown to review the proposed $56 billion merger of cable rivals Charter Communications Inc (CHTR.O) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC.N)

The FCC said it will collect the first wave of public comments by October 13. The agency also adopted a new legal framework to protect sensitive information submitted as part of the merger review, while allowing some third-party representatives to access and comment on it.

The FCC’s so-called 180-day “shot clock” is used as guidance, though is often surpassed. The companies have said they aimed to close the deal by the end of the year.

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