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Dish Petitions FCC to Deny Charter/Time Warner Cable Merger

13 Oct, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Threat to competing OTT video services — i.e. Sling TV, cited in petition

Dish Network Oct. 13 formally petitioned the Federal Communications Commission seeking to deny the proposed merger of Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable.

In addition to the usual industry concerns about alleged monopolistic behavior a combined Charter/TWC presents, Dish says the union could significantly damage competitive development of over-the-top video and limit consumer access to online video programming.

Dish says the merger would allow Comcast and Charter to control 90% of the nation’s high-speed broadband homes between them. Similarly to complaints surrounding the failed merger between Comcast and TWC, Dish contends the merger would enable Charter to shut out competing subscription streaming services through so-called “choke points.”

They include points of interconnection to the combined company’s broadband network; blocking the “public Internet” portion of the pipe to the consumer’s home, and using managed or specialized service channels to squeeze the capacity of the “public Internet” portion of the Charter broadband pipe.

Technical issues aside, Dish is likely responding to Charter’s Oct. 12 rollout of a $13 OTT video serviced to its broadband-only subscribers. For an additional $7, subscribers essentially get what Dish’s Sling TV offers — plus their choice of either HBO or Showtime.

“I believe that the proposed merger … would cause significant and irreparable harm to emerging competitive online video products and services, as well as the performance of traditional satellite television service, ultimately reducing competition and choice for consumers,” Roger Lynch, CEO of Sling TV, said in a statement. “Accordingly, I believe that the merger as currently constructed is not in the public interest and should be denied.”

The National Association of Broadcasters Oct. 12 also petitioned the FCC to stop the Charter/TWC merger due process until it completes its review of broadcast ownership regulations.

Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the FCC is obligated to complete a review of its broadcast ownership rules every four years, and repeal or modify those rules that are no longer necessary in the public interest as the result of competition.

The Commission failed to complete its 2010 quadrennial review on time and announced it was combining that review with its 2014 quadrennial review, which the FCC has scheduled to complete in 2016.

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