New York Not A Fan Of Comcast’s Plan To Take Over TWC Service In New York



We’ve known for months that the FCC and the Justice Department are hard at work combing through the proposed Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger, but they aren’t the only ones. Although the deal will need approval from both federal agencies in order to move forward, it also has to get the states where Comcast, TWC, and Charter operate on board. And some states, New York in particular, aren’t making it easy for the cable giants to get their way.

Under New York law, the New York Public Service Commission has to approve the transaction before Comcast and TWC can trade over operating licenses in that state. And thanks to a rule change from earlier this year, the NYPSC is obligated to make sure that the deal is actively in the public interest for the residents of New York.

Over the past few months, the NYPSC held a series of public hearings on the merger around the state. Like the FCC, the commission has also been collecting comments on the merger.

Based on their findings so far, the commission also submitted a public comment for discussion to the FCC. Although the NYPSC does not specifically advocate either for or against the merger in their comment, they do identify several areas of potential concern that they encourage the FCC to look more deeply into, particularly including potential “exclusionary pricing practices” that a post-merger Comcast could have the means, motive, and opportunity to engage in.

Bloomberg reports that New York actually has a fair amount of leverage and power over the two companies. Bringing the country’s biggest markets, New York and L.A., into Comcast country is considered to be one of the major goals of the transaction. If New York state declines to approve the merger, that could make it all very difficult for Comcast.

What’s more likely, though, is that the NYPSC will use that leverage to push for certain concessions instead. According to Bloomberg, the PSC staff has recommended that the commission only vote to approve the merger if Comcast promises to offer faster connections, provide better customer service, and expand coverage in rural areas. The Commission staff also recommends that the NYPSC ask Comcast to improve their internet access program for low-income families and to make them promise to keep jobs in New York.

The political environment in New York is not exactly warming to the merger proposal as the review carries on. Bloomberg reports that Governor Andrew Cuomo has indicated that the state’s merger review will now include a close look at this week’s massive, multi-state Time Warner Cable internet outage. And Tim Wu, who is running for lieutenant governor on a platform that includes opposition to the merger, just received endorsement from the New York Times.

The Public Service Commission will hold its vote on the merger on October 2.

New York Flaunts Clout in Review of Comcast Deal [Bloomberg]

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