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Justice Dept. approves Charter's acquisition of Time Warner Cable

The government's antitrust unit approved the merger, valued at $78 billion. Next stop, the Federal Communications Commission must approve the deal.
Written by Natalie Gagliordi, Contributor

The U.S. Justice Department has approved Charter Communications' bids to buy Time Warner Cable and Bright House networks.

The combined corporation, to be named New Charter, will form the second-largest broadband provider, with 19.4 million broadband subscribers.

That said, the takeover approvals signal major consolidation in the broadband industry, so it's no surprise that they come with a set of conditions from both the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission.

The Justice Department will aim to enforce regulations that prohibit New Charter from entering or enforcing agreements that could make it more difficult for online video distributors -- namely Netflix, Hulu and Amazon -- to source video content from programmers.

Similarly, the FCC's conditions will attempt to "ensure a competitive video marketplace and increase broadband deployment".

First, New Charter will be prohibited from imposing data caps and charging usage-based prices to subscribers. Additionally, New Charter will be banned from charging interconnection fees to online video providers. The conditions from both the FCC and the Justice Department will have at least a seven-year lifespan.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has sent a recommendation for approval to his fellow commissioners.

"If the conditions are approved by my colleagues, an additional two million customer locations will have access to a high-speed connection," Wheeler said in a statement. "At least one million of those connections will be in competition with another high-speed broadband provider in the market served, bringing innovation and new choices for consumers, and demonstrate the viability of one broadband provider overbuilding another."

The deal still needs approval from California regulators.

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