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

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

The Public Service Commission's decision is the latest and most aggressive offensive in a prolonged battle between Charter, which operates under the brand name Spectrum and employs more than 11,000 New Yorkers, and Cuomo, who has accused the company of reneging on its promises to expand broadband service to rural areas of the state.

Concluding that Charter "was not interested in being a good corporate citizen" and that the Commission could no longer allow it to operate in NY, the PSC stated its actions address the failings and are meant "to ensure NY has a partner interested in the public good, not just lining its pockets".

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.

The decision cuts against a broader nationwide trend of consolidation in the telecom and media industries, although it is limited to NY state and does not cover the more than 40 other states in which Charter does business, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Charter now has 60 days to file a plan with the commission "to ensure an orderly transition to a successor provider (s)", but must continue to serve its customers in the meantime.

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. Specifically, Spectrum failed the commission's order that it build new service lines to pass 145,000 residences and businesses in poorly served communities within the former Time Warner Cable franchise area. "To ensure that Charter's customers are not negatively affected during that process, the commission further ordered the company to maintain service to the company's more than 2 million customers in NY until an orderly transition occurs".

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. Its failure to meet its June 18, 2018, target by more than 40 percent is only the most recent example.

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As a result, the commission's general counsel referred a false-advertising claim to the Attorney General's Office. Charter also must ensure that cable and internet customers' service is not interrupted during the transition.

NY authorities have moved to oust Spectrum, the state's largest TV and internet service provider, claiming the company failed to serve customers and live up to promises.

It's unclear which company would step in to provide service for New Yorkers if Charter is forced to cease operations in the state.

Charter serves 41 states and is New York's largest cable provider.

Today's decision may be obtained by going to the commission documents section of the PSC's website at www.dps.ny.gov and entering case number 15-M-0388 in the input box labeled "Search for Case/Matter Number".

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