Charter: FCC modem-fee proposal directly at odds with conditions of TWC and BHN purchases


Charter Communications said in an ex parte filing that the new proposed rules regulating modem fees are in direct conflict with conditions imposed upon the MSO as part of its purchase of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. 

“In its order approving the transactions through which Charter acquired Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, the Commission explicitly prohibited Charter from charging a separate modem fee as part of the discounted broadband services offer that Charter will soon begin offering to eligible low-income customers,” Charter said in its filing. “The Commission’s proposal to now prohibit providers from imposing a separate modem charge is fundamentally at odds with the policy the Commission endorsed in the Charter-TWC-BHN order and underscores the arbitrary and capricious nature of the commission’s proposal.”

The ex parte filing stemmed from a meeting held last week between Alex Hoehn-Saric, Charter’s senior VP of policy and external affairs, and Matthew Berry, chief of staff for FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai. 

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Meanwhile, in a separate analysis of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s revised plan to regulate the pay-TV set-top business, AT&T and the NCTA said the new proposal would devastate the video ecosystem. 

“Based on the little that is known about the Chairman’s new proposal, its unprecedented mandate will only succeed in destroying the existing, well-functioning private arrangements by which MVPD apps are provided to device makers, and it will do so without achieving any of the Chairman’s purported goals,” the paper said. 

“It would abrogate negotiated copyright licenses and app development agreements,” the analysis also said. “It would raise costs to consumers by mandating that each MVPD build and maintain apps for an indeterminate number of retail platforms for an indefinite period of time, regardless of the nature of the device or platform. It would require MVPDs to release customers’ personally identifiable information about their channel subscriptions, previous viewing patterns, and financial transactions to third-party device manufacturers that MVPDs have no ability to monitor and that are not subject to the statutory protections prescribed by Congress."

For more:
- read this Charter ex parte letter
- read this AT&T and NCTA analysis

Related articles:
Rosenworcel wary of angering content community with set-top vote, analyst says
Wheeler puts pay-TV back on defense with revised set-top proposal
FCC's O’Rielly: New set-top plan ‘exists within a fantasy world of unlimited commission authority’

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