Photographer: Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg

Charter Wins Final U.S. Approval for Time Warner Cable Deal

  • Merger still needs approval from California regulator
  • Enlarged Charter would serve 24 million in 41 states

Charter Communications Inc. won final U.S. clearance for its purchase of Time Warner Cable Inc. from the Federal Communications Commission, leaving approval from California as the last regulatory hurdle for the $55.1 billion deal.

The FCC in an e-mailed notice on Friday announced the decision, which was dated Thursday. Chairman Tom Wheeler earlier proposed approval with conditions to prevent Charter from interfering with online video distribution that competes with cable channel entertainment packages. Justice Department antitrust officials on April 25 cleared the deal.

The enlarged Charter would supplant Time Warner Cable as the second-largest U.S. cable operator behind Comcast Corp., gaining 13 million customers in cities including New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. Charter would have about 24 million customers in 41 states.

As part of the FCC’s approval, Charter agreed not to charge Internet users more for heavy data consumption and to let Web video providers connect to its network for free, as well as to extend broadband to more areas, Chief Executive Officer Tom Rutledge said in an e-mail. The promises “are largely extensions of the longstanding consumer-friendly values and practices of our company,” Rutledge said.

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.

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

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