Charter, TWC facing federal inquiries into how they might deal with online video competition

The FCC has requested information from Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) pertaining to how the two companies, which are engaged in a $56.7 billion merger proposal, will deal with online video competition. 

According to the agency's formal information requests, the FCC specifically wants to know "the entry, competitive impact, or the company's response to any online video distributor, including but not limited to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, Dish Sling TV, Sony Vue, CBS All Access and HBO Now." 

Both Charter and TWC have until October 13 to respond. 

The online video competition issue was a key stumbling block in Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) attempt to buy TWC, which was abandoned in April. Regulators, for example, were concerned about the way Comcast had handled network traffic from operators like Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX). They were also mindful of things like the technologically closed nature of Comcast's X1 video platform.

For its part, Charter has pledged to abide by the FCC's strict net neutrality laws for three years and has secured the merger's blessing from Netflix. 

"We are already preparing our responses and look forward to further demonstrating the consumer benefits of these transactions," said Charter spokesman Justin Venech. 

Charter is looking to gain simultaneous regulatory approval of not only its proposed TWC purchase, but its smaller $10.4 billion acquisition of Bright House Networks.

If both acquisitions are completed by early 2016 as expected, Charter will become the second biggest cable operator next to Comcast, with more than 17 million video customers. TWC will give it strongholds in the major metropolitan areas of New York and Los Angeles, while Bright House will offer it a beachhead in Florida. 

Earlier this week, investors for both Charter and TWC signed off on the transactions. 

For more:
- read this FCC information request
- read this story from The Verge
read this Bloomberg story

Related articles:
TWC shareholders approve Charter takeover
Charter investor sues over TWC/Bright House purchase, alleges Liberty is getting sweetheart deal
Charter beefs up D.C. lobbying ranks as merger reviews get underway

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