Feb 23, 2017

FCC chief moves to chip away at Charter-Time Warner Cable merger conditions


FCC Chairman Ajit Pai moved Thursday to roll back part of a key requirement from last year that Charter Communications expand its broadband network in order to merge with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

The setup: When the FCC approved Charter's $65 billion merger with the massive Time Warner Cable network last year, it said the company needed to build out its network to two million customer locations. A million of those had to be locations where there was already a high-speed broadband provider operating to create more competition.

The details: Multiple sources familiar with the move confirmed to Axios that a draft order eliminating those so-called "overbuild provisions" — forcing Charter to build in areas where a competitor already operates — had been circulated to the commissioners' offices by agency staff in response to petitions from two trade groups. An commission official said the rationale behind the order was to encourage Charter to build in unserved areas of the country, not places where customers can already access high-speed broadband.

Worth noting: An order can sit on circulation for a long time, so this doesn't necessarily mean that a vote on the matter is imminent. Spokespeople for the FCC and Charter declined to comment on the record.

Key context: Pai has long criticized the idea of putting conditions on a merger to reach broader policy goals, like encouraging competition in the broadband market. He even voted against the Charter merger's approval just to make that point.

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Stocks fall 4% as sell-off worsens

A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Stocks fell more than 4% on Thursday, extending the market’s worst week since the financial crisis in 2008 following a spike in coronavirus cases around the world.

The big picture: All three indices are in correction, down over 10% from recent record-highs, amid a global market rout. It's the S&P 500's quickest decline into correction territory in the index's history, per Deutsche Bank.

Coronavirus updates: California monitors 8,400 potential cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

33 people in California have tested positive for the coronavirus, and health officials are monitoring 8,400 people who have recently returned from "points of concern," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica, and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Watchdog opens probe into VA secretary over handling of sexual assault claim

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on Fox Business Network’s "The Evening Edit" on Jan. 7. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

The Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General Michael Missal said Thursday he had opened an investigation into VA Secretary Robert Wilkie after lawmakers demanded an inquiry into his handling of a sexual misconduct report, the Washington Post reports.

Context: Wilkie allegedly "worked to discredit" the credibility of Democratic aide and veteran Andrea Goldstein after she reported last fall "that a man groped and propositioned her in the main lobby of the agency's D.C. Medical Center," a senior VA official told the Post.