Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) has begun ramping up its lobbying efforts to get regulators to approve its proposed mergers with Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and Bright House Networks. Specifically, the company has filed applications in favor of the transactions with the New York Public Services Commission and California's Public Utilities Commission. The company has also hired four new lobbying firms, according to a report in The Hill, a move that raises its total number of outside consulting firms to nine.
In its filings with the NYPUC and the CPUC, Charter promises to deliver faster Internet service, greater employment and superior cloud-based video services to the more than 3.2 million customers it serves in New York and to the 3.5 million it will have in California, should the government OK its deals.
Charter also said that all TWC and Bright House customers being brought into the fold will be offered Spectrum Guide, the company's advanced cloud-based video user interface, as well as World Box, its new Cisco-made set-tops.
With some TWC customers in New York and California still operating under 15 Mbps broadband speeds, Charter promised to bump its entire customer base to its current minimum speed, 60 Mbps. Charter also pledged to improve customer service in the area. "As part of our effort," the company said, "New Charter will also return TWC call center jobs to the United States, including New York, and will hire and train thousands of new employees for its customer service call centers and field technician operations."
The MSO promised to sustain and build upon programs established and supported by TWC to hire women and minorities.
The New York Public Services Commission and California Public Utilities Commission were among many state and federal agencies that were openly skeptical regarding Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) $45 billion attempt to buy TWC. Charter is looking to establish momentum with the state agencies by addressing potential issues head-on. The two state agencies represent 6.7 million of the 17 million subscribers that would ultimately fall in the "New Charter" footprint.
As for Charter's new lobbying groups, The Hill reported that Charter hired Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Franklin Square Group, Heartland Strategies and Peck Madigan Jones. The publication said that the moves would add some big names to Charter's lobbying team, including Ed Pagano, a former chief of staff to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).
Analysts largely view Charter's chances of gaining government approval for the proposed acquisitions as favorable. And for its part, the MSO was largely repeating promises it had already rendered to the FCC in previous filings. For example, the company reiterated its pledge to abide by the FCC's new net neutrality rules and also build out broadband into rural areas.
"We will invest at least $2.5 billion in the build-out of networks into commercial areas within our footprint beyond where we currently operate, including in New York," Charter's New York filing reads. "This will create additional, much-needed competition in the commercial sector."
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