California Public Utilities Commission Administrative Law Judge Recommends Approval of Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Charter Transactions
By David L. Cohen, Comcast Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer
Another important step occurred on February 13th in the regulatory approval process of our transactions with Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications. In California, the Public Utilities Commission Administrative Law Judge released a proposed decision recommending approval of the Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Charter transactions, with conditions.
We are reviewing the proposed decision and conditions closely and look forward to engaging with the full California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) as it completes its review of the transaction. We remain confident that the record demonstrates the many public interest benefits the transaction will bring to residential and commercial customers across the state.
While we have just received the recommended decision, it appears that a number of the conditions are ones that will benefit consumers and the company can work with. Some of the suggested conditions, however, could potentially prevent the full benefits of this transaction being realized by Californians, and create a more intrusive regulatory regime where innovative services could be hampered rather than helped. In addition, at least some of the suggested conditions simply lie outside the authority of the CPUC or are unrealistic.
For example, some of the penetration rates and time frames suggested by the conditions are simply unattainable under market conditions, especially with populations that have been slowest to adopt broadband. Deeper broadband penetration among all populations is a goal we share, and one we’ve worked very hard on for the nearly two decades we’ve been marketing broadband. Nationally, across our footprint though we only have a penetration rate of 40% of homes we pass taking our broadband service. In California, it’s about the same. And that’s after we’ve spent billions marketing and advertising those services.
We look forward to working with the Commission as it creates conditions to approve this transaction that are fair to consumers in California and to our company. We’re proud of our record in the state. We have a history of investing in California, having invested nearly $10 billion in the state since 1996. We’ve invested throughout the state, from our cable systems in Northern and Central California, to our innovation center in Silicon Valley, to NBCUniversal’s facilities at Universal City which has been transformed into a state-of-the-art media and entertainment space. Since the close of the NBCUniversal transaction in January 2011, we’ve created several thousand jobs directly in the creative and construction fields – and more through the thousands of production jobs associated with our television and film production in California.
Approval of the TWC and Charter transactions will allow residential and business customers to share in these investments, bringing faster Internet speeds, a best-in-class video programming service, more competition in business services and our acclaimed low-income broadband program Internet Essentials to communities in Southern California. We’ll bring the superfast speeds we offer in Silicon Valley and the best-in-class video product with the most On Demand to the entertainment capital of the world. Companies with offices in San Francisco, Sacramento and Los Angeles will have a competitive comprehensive telecommunications option for their locations throughout the state.
With this proposed CPUC decision, we continue the regulatory approval process, in California, in other states and at the federal level. We already have the vast majority of state and local approvals necessary to close the transaction, and we continue to work with the FCC and the DOJ on the federal approval process, as we work toward an early-2015 closing.