On October 13, TechFreedom, the International Center for Law and Economics and the Competitive Enterprise Institute urged the Federal Communications Commission to approve the merger between Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable, as well as Charter’s purchase of Bright House Networks.
In comments to the FCC, the organizations argue that the proposed transaction is unlikely to harm competition; less than one percent of the census blocks served by the merged company (referred to by the applicants as “New Charter”) contain broadband customers of more than one company. Further, the merger will result in upgrades to existing networks that would strengthen competition.
Currently, Time Warner’s most popular broadband tier offers 15 Mbps downstream throughput, while Charter offers a similarly priced service with a minimum speed of either 60 or 100 Mbps. If the merger is approved, New Charter intends to offer at least 60 Mbps downstream throughput to 99 percent of its customers. Such improvements would drive other service providers to upgrade their own networks in order to compete more effectively.
However, it is important that the proposed transactions be approved without conditions. In recent years, the FCC has imposed numerous conditions on mergers that often have had little or no connection to the competitive issues raised by the merger.
“The FCC’s practice of regulating through merger review creates an inconsistent framework in which different rules are applied to different companies,” said Berin Szoka, president of TechFreedom. “Further, it encourages rival companies to use the FCC’s merger review process to lobby for burdensome conditions on their competitors.”