NY governor promises 'hands-on review' of Comcast-Time Warner Cable

Even as AT&T's (NYSE: T) $48.5 billion bid to acquire DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) momentarily diverts attention, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is promising a laser focus on a more immediate matter: whether Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) should be allowed to acquire Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC).

Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo (Source: NY State)

In a public announcement, Cuomo promised that the New York State Public Service Commission will flex its new regulatory muscles to conduct a thorough investigation into the proposed merger with the goal of determining whether it's good for New York customers and the state itself.

"The state is taking a hands-on review of this merger to ensure that New Yorkers benefit," Cuomo said in a Saugarties Post Star story, noting that the commission's actions "will help protect consumers by demanding company commitments to strong service quality, affordability and availability."

Both companies were recently raked over the coals in the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) ratings of telecommunications companies and PSC Chair Audrey Zibelman, without specifically citing those results, made it clear that New York takes customer satisfaction seriously.

"To determine whether the proposed transaction is in the public interest, the commission will examine the proposal to ensure services the merged company would provide will be better than the service customers currently receive," she said.

Time Warner Cable casts a big shadow in the Empire State, delivering triple play services to about 2.6 million subscribers, with customer clusters in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany and in New York City, the boroughs of Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens and parts of Brooklyn.

While New York is questioning whether the merger is good for its citizens, Forbes contributor Ronald Klingeabiel questioned the merger itself.

Comcast, Klingeabiel suggested, should more sensibly have targeted T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) and Sprint (NYSE: S) should have targeted Time Warner Cable because "regulators would be happier with this configuration and it makes strategic sense, too."

Arguing that broadband is the glue that ties wired and wireless services, Klingeabiel suggested "Comcast might be better advised to expand into mobile, going beyond its recent contemplation of more Wi-Fi provisioning," adding that "Sprint might have the financial backing to acquired fixed carriers itself, perhaps TWC."

For more:
- Forbes has this story
- The Saugerties Post Star has this story

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