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Gobble away! Charter-Time Warner Cable merger OK'd by FCC

Megadeal gets go-ahead after vote

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has given its blessing to Charter's $78.7bn acquisition of Time Warner Cable (TWC) and Bright House Networks.

The watchdog said on Friday in a brief statement that it had approved the massive biz gobble with conditions floated earlier by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler.

Those conditions include a rule banning the use of caps on subscribers' monthly download totals, as well as a moratorium on charges for interconnect deals with network backbone providers. The US Department of Justice had also signed off on the deal, with additional conditions of its own regarding video licensing terms.

The FCC has not yet revealed how its four commissioners and chairman voted, instead only announcing an overall approval. Commissioner Michael O'Rielly, a Republican, had previously indicated that he was unhappy with the terms Wheeler had laid out for approval, but voted in favor of the gobble. Commissioner Ajit Pai, also a Republican, voted against the deal because he didn't agree with the conditions imposed.

Charter, meanwhile, does not seem to be having much of an issue with the FCC's decision, saying it would agree to, or is already practicing, the conditions Wheeler had laid out for approval of the deal that will help Charter close the gap with current US cable king Comcast.

"The significant benefits of these transactions are clear; greater competition, more consumer and OTT friendly broadband policies, broader access to affordable broadband, and added US jobs," Charter CEO Tom Rutledge said in a statement.

"Charter will be a stronger competitor in the broadband and video markets, well positioned to deliver these benefits and more to consumers."

The merger is the second major cable deal the FCC signed off on this week. On Wednesday, the commission approved a $17.5bn merger between Altice and Cablevision. ®

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