SENATE ANTITRUST SUBCOMMITTEE LEADERS WEIGH IN ON TWC-CHARTER-BHN ISSUES

charter

The Federal Communications Commission and U.S. Justice Department should take video programming diversity and content distribution competition into account in its review of Charter Communications’ bids to acquire Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, the leaders of a key Senate subcommittee said in a Feb. 17 letter.

“We are on the threshold of a dramatic transformation of the way consumers obtain video content that should increase competition and benefit American consumers,” Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Judiciary Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights Subcommittee wrote.

Therefore, both agencies should look closely at whether or not the merger could result in broadband and video market dominance sufficient to incent “New Charter” to interfere with online video distribution services, particularly for regional cable companies, the lawmakers said.

They also raised concerns that independent programmers could be at a disadvantage at the negotiating table for programming carriage.

“We urge you to take the above considerations into account as you conduct your respective review of the merger,” the senators said. The FCC is on Day 144 of its informal, non-binding 180-day merger review “shotclock.” If approved, the combined mergers would result in the third largest pay TV provider and second largest broadband Internet provider in the U.S., according to the FCC.

Text of the letter is at http://src.bna.com/cHP.