Frontier seeks to leverage Charter's FCC review to win Minnesota franchise kerfuffle

Frontier Communications has weighed in —very, very late — to the FCC's review of Charter Communications' (NASDAQ: CHTR) purchases of Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and Bright House Networks, after Charter sought to block Frontier's acquisition of a franchise agreement in Minnesota.

Farmington, Minn. officials are conducting a public hearing Monday to consider Frontier's request to bring its Vantage video service to the city. Charter, which has the city's sole cable franchise and holds an extension to a franchise agreement that expired Dec. 31, is trying to block Frontier's efforts. The five-member FCC Commission, meanwhile, is set to vote on Charter's merger proposals, and Charter reportedly has the three votes it needs to pass regulatory muster. Frontier is seeking to leverage this delicate portion of Charter's review. 

"Just as Frontier seeks to introduce facilities-based competition in Minnesota, Charter is rolling out all the stops to block that competition," Frontier said in a letter to the FCC. 

"The Commission has previously rebuked cable incumbents for this type of anticompetitive behavior," Frontier added. "As the Commission has explained, there is 'troubling … evidence" that incumbent providers have sought 'to frustrate negotiations between local franchising authorities and competitive providers, causing delay and preventing competitive entry.'

Frontier said Charter has hired a Washington, D.C. law firm to threaten the City of Farmington with litigation. 

According to local paper the Farmington Independent, LeeAnn Herrera asked the city council to reject Frontier's franchise, alleging that the company hasn't complied with state laws.

Charter reps didn't immediately respond to FierceCable's inquiry for comment.

For more:
- read this Frontier letter to the FCC
- read this Farmington Independent story

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