California Public Utilities Commission officials plan a public hearing on Charter Communications’ proposed $67-billion acquisition of two cable companies, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, which serve Southern California.
The PUC hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Junipero Serra State Office Building at 320 West 4th St. in downtown Los Angeles.
It is expected to be the only public hearing in California on the cable company tie-up, which would catapult Charter into a regional juggernaut with nearly 2 million customers in the greater Los Angeles area.
Charter, which is based in Connecticut, needs the PUC’s approval to take over communications licenses currently held by Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. Charter also is awaiting a decision by the Federal Communications Commission and U.S. Department of Justice.
The three-company merger, announced in May, has attracted less opposition than last year’s failed bid by Comcast Corp. to buy Time Warner Cable.
Charter would become the nation’s third-largest pay-TV provider, serving more than 17 million homes, and the second-largest high-speed Internet provider with more than 19 million customers.
The additional heft is worrisome to consumer advocates.
“This deal raises serious concerns. The new Charter would cover about 82% of Southern California,” Paul Goodman, senior legal counsel for the Greenlining Institute, told The Times on Monday. “And for about 69% of Southern California consumers, this would be the only company offering broadband Internet speeds of at least 25 megabits per second, which is the new FCC standard.”
Charter had hoped to close the deal by now, but the various government regulators have not reached their decisions.
“We expect a strong showing of support at the hearing and we are looking forward to working further with the California Public Utilities Commission and other interested parties,” said Alex Dudley, spokesman for Charter.