Five U.S. senators including presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said they have “significant concerns” that Charter Communications Inc.’s proposed $55.1 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable Inc. could raise prices and thwart competition from cable’s online video rivals.
The deal to create the second-largest U.S. cable provider behind Comcast Corp. would “effectively create a nationwide broadband duopoly” controlling nearly two-thirds of U.S. homes with high-speed Internet connections, the senators said in the Feb. 25 letter to leaders of the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department.
Regulators need to act to “prevent any possible harm,” the senators said. Signers included Sanders, a Vermont independent who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, and Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Al Franken of Minnesota, Ron Wyden of Oregon.
New York-based Time Warner Cable is the dominant cable provider in Charlotte as well as a major employer, with more than 3,100 workers in the city. CEO Rob Marcus told the Observer in October that Charlotte could lose some finance and accounting jobs in the merger, but that the city could gain workers over time.
“My expectation, although I can’t promise it, is Charter will very much want to utilize the terrific space we have here, which means bring jobs here,” Marcus said then. “So it may not be exactly the same functions at the end of this whole thing, but we will certainly have a significant presence down in Charlotte.”
Charter, for its part, is “committed to providing superior broadband and video services at competitive rates,” Tamara Smith, a spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.
The FCC and Justice Department are reviewing the deal proposed in May.
With the deal, Charter would almost quadruple its cable subscribers, gaining 12 million customers in cities including New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. The combined business would have about 17 million basic cable customers, compared with Comcast’s 22 million.