NY state revokes approval of Charter-Time Warner Cable deal

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The State Public Service Commission has revoked its approval of the 2016 merger agreement between Charter Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable Inc. Unless overturned, this action will mean that Charter will no longer be permitted to operate in the state of NY.

To obtain approval in New York, Charter agreed to extend its high-speed broadband network to 145,000 unserved or under-served homes and businesses over four years.

Luckily, the ruling has no impact on New Yorkers and their ability to access cable television services.

Charter Cable's Spectrum could lose the chance to continue providing services in NY for failing to live up to a service agreement and "misleading the public", a state utility regulator said Friday.

"Charter's non-compliance and brazenly disrespectful behavior toward NY state and its customers necessitates the actions taken (Friday) seeking court-ordered penalties for its failures, and revoking the Charter merger approval".

The decision came after more than a year of administrative enforcement efforts to get Charter to comply with the commission's merger order, the release said.

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But when it provided its next update in December, commission officials said Charter did not deserve credit for more than 18,000 households it said it had connected, in part because many of them appeared to be located in New York City and not a hard-to-reach, less densely populated area. The combined Charter-Time Warner Cable operation is the second-largest cable company in the country.

Shares of Charter (chtr) initially fell more than 2% on the news, but quickly recovered. In response to the decision by the commission, Charter noted that it had extended its reach to "more than 86,000 NY homes and businesses", which is objectively less than 145,000. The company said it has extended its advanced broadband network to more than 86,000 NY homes and businesses since the merger agreement and is focused on continuing that work. The Commission also said that charter tried to pass the blame for the failuresto other companies, including utility pole owners.

Consequently, the PSC directed Charter pay $1 million to the State Treasury for missing the June milestone, bringing the total amount of payments ordered by the commission to $3 million, and directed the commission's counsel to bring an enforcement action in State Supreme Court to seek additional penalties for Charter's past failures and ongoing noncompliance.

The State considers roughly a quarter of those do not meet the standards set in the PSC's 2016 merger approval conditions. The Commission has also referred a false advertising claim to the Attorney General after Spectrum missed every network expansion target but continued to advertise as if they were delivering fast speeds.

Charter is the state's largest cable provider, offering television, internet and phone services in more than 1,150 communities across NY with a potential customer base of 5 million, according to the Public Service Commission.

The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) handed down the decision Friday.

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