State Board Revokes Spectrum-Time Warner Cable Merger, Citing 'Egregious Conduct'

NYS moves to kick Charter Communications out of state

The action by the Public Service Commission follows months of disagreements over the company's progress in meeting goals set by regulators in 2016 as a condition of their merger approval- especially an expansion of broadband to rural areas.

It remains to be seen if other states will follow New York's example in attempting to hold broadband providers accountable for their service to residents across the United States.

The State Public Service Commission has revoked its approval of the 2016 merger agreement between Charter Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable Inc. This is due to numerous failures to serve New Yorkers such as skirting obligations to serve rural communities, failure to meet deadlines and unsafe practices in the field.

Luckily, the ruling has no impact on New Yorkers and their ability to access cable television services.

PSC Commission Chair John Rhodes says after more than a year of noncompliance on Charter's part, his organization is now moving forward with stronger actions taken against the corporation for their willful ignoring of the merger's approval terms.

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In addition to rescinding its approval of the Charter and Time Warner merger, the commission also filed an enforcement action in the New York State Supreme Court to seek $3 million in penalties for past failures and continuing noncompliance. "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".

Since the merger, PSC said, "Charter has repeatedly failed to meet its commitments to the state, including its obligation to timely extend its high-speed broadband network to 145,000 unserved and underserved homes and businesses in less densely populated areas of the state". In response to the decision by the commission, Charter noted that it had extended its reach to "more than 86,000 NY homes and businesses", which is objectively less than 145,000.




The commission alleged that Charter did not provide the public benefits to the state of NY on which the approval was granted and also said it would seek additional penalties for Charter's past failures and ongoing non-compliance.

Charter will undoubtedly do everything in its power to block this move, so don't expect Spectrum to suddenly vanish from NY in two months, but perhaps this will at least lead to some positive changes.

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

Spectrum is owned by Charter Communications, which merged with Time Warner Cable. Charter also must ensure that cable and internet customers' service is not interrupted during the transition.

In a statement, Charter said the claims made by the commission were "politically charged" and tied to the state's election season.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's administration moved to ban Charter Communications from NY on Friday, ordering the internet, television and phone behemoth to leave the state and hand over its business to another company. NY has also requested that Spectrum design a transition plan.

"I am pleased that the PSC is taking these serious concerns to heart, and is looking out for the hundreds of thousands of Spectrum customers across the state being shortchanged when it comes to cable and Internet service", he added.

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