Charter-TWC deal approval by California PUC recommended by administrative law judge

A California judge has recommended that the state's Public Utilities Commission approve Charter Communications' (NASDAQ: CHTR) takeover bid of Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC). 

The 74-page opinion rendered by Administrative Law Judge Karl Bemesderfer further bolsters the already strong regulatory approval chances of Charter's purchases of both TWC and Bright House Networks. 

Charter is in advanced talks with the FCC over conditions for the merger, with agency Chairman Tom Wheeler reportedly having already issued an approval order for the deals. 

The California PUC, which is set to announce its decision May 12, is viewed as the last major regulatory hurdle for the deal. 

"The merger of smaller monopolists into a bigger monopoly does little to worsen the situation of customers who are already faced with take-it-or-leave-it offers from their local cable service provider," Bemesderfer wrote in his filing, which was obtained by the Los Angeles Times and various other news services

Judge Bemesderfer's endorsement carried conditions, however. The judge recommended that Charter honor TWC's existing pricing plans and not impose data caps or usage-based pricing on the 6.4 million California customers it will have when and if the deal closes. 

"We are pleased the regulatory process is moving forward and will continue our productive engagement at the California Public Utilities Commission as we work toward obtaining final approval in the weeks ahead and bringing the benefits of New Charter to more Californians," Charter said in a statement. 

For more:
- read this Bloomberg story
- read this Los Angeles Times story

Related articles:
Charter's Rutledge meets with Wheeler again as TWC deal review drags on, gets more expensive
Charter fends off HBO's accusations that TWC merger will be bad for OTT
New Charter merger opposition group still working FCC Commissioner Clyburn

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