The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) today voted to revoke its approval of Charter Communications’ 2016 purchase of Time Warner Cable (TWC). The PSC said it is ordering Charter to sell the former TWC system that it purchased in New York, and it’s “bring[ing] an enforcement action in State Supreme Court to seek additional penalties for Charter’s past failures and ongoing non-compliance.
Charter has repeatedly failed to meet deadlines for broadband expansions that were required in exchange for merger approval, state officials said. The PSC has steadily increased the pressure on Charter with fines and threats, but Charter never agreed to changes demanded by state officials.
As a result of today’s vote, “Charter is ordered to file within 60 days a plan with the Commission to ensure an orderly transition to a successor provider(s),” the PSC’s announcement said. “During the transition process, Charter must continue to comply with all local franchises it holds in New York State and all obligations under the Public Service Law and the Commission regulations. Charter must ensure no interruption in service is experienced by customers, and, in the event that Charter does not do so, the Commission will take further steps, including seeking injunctive relief in Supreme Court in order to protect New York consumers.”
The commission cited five types of misconduct to support its decision:
Charter provides cable TV, Internet, and VoIP phone service to more than two million subscribers in the state. Nationwide, Charter has 26 million customers, and the company would continue to own former Time Warner Cable systems in states besides New York.
The PSC said it concluded that Charter is “not interested in being a good corporate citizen.”
“Charter’s repeated failures to serve New Yorkers and honor its commitments are well documented and are only getting worse,” PSC Chair John Rhodes said. ” After more than a year of administrative enforcement efforts to bring Charter into compliance with the Commission’s merger order, the time has come for stronger actions to protect New Yorkers and the public interest.”
NY: Charter is lying about deployment
Charter has denied failing to meet obligations to expand broadband service. But as we’ve previously written, state officials say that Charter is trying to count locations that it was already required to serve as part of franchise agreements toward its merger commitments.
“Despite missing every network expansion target since the merger was approved in 2016, Charter has falsely claimed in advertisements it is exceeding its commitments to the State and is on track to deliver its network expansion,” the PSC said today.
Charter also previously disputed the legal force of the merger conditions, saying that the state’s powers are limited by federal law and that the state is asking for more than what Charter agreed to.
Charter provided this statement to several media outlets today:
In the weeks leading up to an election, rhetoric often becomes politically charged. But the fact is that Spectrum has extended the reach of our advanced broadband network to more than 86,000 New York homes and businesses since our merger agreement with the PSC. Our 11,000 diverse and locally based workers, who serve millions of customers in the state every day, remain focused on delivering faster and better broadband to more New Yorkers, as we promised.
Charter’s statement did not say whether it will appeal the PSC decision, or whether it will comply with the PSC’s order to sell the former Time Warner Cable system in New York. We asked Charter those questions today and will update this story if we get a response.
UPDATE: Charter told Ars that it plans to fight the PSC’s order to sell the former Time Warner Cable system.