FCC Approves Altice-Cablevision Deal

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By Lydia Beyoud and Tim McElgunn

May 3 — The Federal Communications Commission has approved Altice NV’s proposed acquisition of Cablevision Systems Corp., finding it to be in the public interest, according to documents the agency released late May 3.

With the commission’s approval, the only regulatory hurdles left for Altice are in New York, where New York City and state officials are planning votes on the transaction this month.

Under the Cablevision deal, Altice would add 3.1 million customers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, to go along with the 1.6 million subscribers in 17 southern and western states it acquired when it gained a majority stake in Suddenlink Communications in late 2015.  After acquiring Cablevision, Altice would have 8.1 million cable-, DSL-, and fiber-connected subscribers worldwide. The company currently has a total of 34.5 million wireline and wireless customers, according to the FCC.

The deal was approved by multiple FCC bureaus. Discussing concerns about the debt level taken on to finance the transaction, the commission said: “In determining whether the Cablevision subsidiaries, which will be wholly owned and controlled by Altice, are financially qualified to hold licenses, we do not substitute our business judgment for that of the applicant or the marketplace.”

The FCC also addressed concerns that network investment and service quality will suffer as a result of the transaction, saying, “Altice has committed to the NY PSC [New York Public Service Commission] that, as part of the transaction, it will invest fully across the Cablevision footprint, and specifically, will provide the network investment to support 300 Mbps [megabits per second] service to all customers.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Lydia Beyoud in Washington at lbeyoud@bna.com; Tim McElgunn in Cherry Hill, NJ at tmcelgunn@bna.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bna.com