After the Open Internet legislation passed a few months ago, Comcast backed down from its plans to merge with Time Warner. Since then, several rumors have circulated that other companies were considering merging with Time Warner, but nothing official was announced until now. The FCC announced today the members of an inter-bureau steering committee that will review a proposed merger between Charter Communications Inc., Time Warner Cable Inc., and Bright House Networks LLC.
The newly formed steering committee will be chaired by General Counsel Jonathan Sallet. Joining Sallet will be Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake, International Bureau Chief Mindel De La Torre, Wireline Competition Bureau Chief Matthew DelNero, and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Chief Roger Sherman.
Currently, Time Warner Cable is the fourth largest multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD), while Charter is the seventh, and Bright House Networks is the tenth. If the merger is approved, the new conglomerate company would be the third largest MVPD in the U.S. with 17.3 million customers. In addition, the joined company would represent the second largest broadband Internet service provider, with 19.4 million broadband subscribers, stretching across nearly 40 states.
Although the joined forces of these ISPs wouldn't be enough to surpass Comcast as the nation's largest broadband service provider, it would be a significant gain on Comcast's current market leadership. It could potentially result in some measure of competition, as Comcast and this new conglomerate company would face off to be the largest ISP in America.
We likely won't hear if the merger was approved for some time, however. The Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger was originally proposed back on February 13, 2014, wasn't approved until October, and ultimately collapsed April 24, 2015. The new Charter/Time Warner/Bright House merger was submitted June 25, 2015, and though it is already under review, if approved, the companies will likely not complete the merger for another year.
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