New York has revoked approval of the 2016 merger between Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications, and has given the company 60 days to remove its Spectrum internet business from the state.
The New York State Public Service Commission has also ordered Charter to sell the former TWC systems it purchased in the state, and says it will bring “an enforcement action in State Supreme Court to seek additional penalties for Charter’s past failures and ongoing noncompliance.”
“Charter, doing business as Spectrum, has — through word and deed — made clear that it has no intention of providing the public benefits upon which the Commission’s earlier approval was conditioned,” the Public Service Commission said in a press release. The PSC said also that Spectrum has “failed to deliver the benefits to New Yorkers that were at the core of the merger approval,” the statement says.
The PSC cites five instances of misconduct in its statement: “Repeated failures to meet deadlines”; attempts to “skirt obligations to serve rural communities”; “unsafe practices in the field”; “failure to fully commit to its obligations under the 2016 merger agreement”; and “purposeful obfuscation of its performance and compliance obligations to the Commission and its customers.”
“Charter’s repeated failures to serve New Yorkers and honor its commitments are well documented and are only getting worse,” said Commission Chair John B. Rhodes. “After more than a year of administrative enforcement efforts to bring Charter into compliance with the Commission’s merger order, the time has come for stronger actions to protect New Yorkers and the public interest.”
Rhodes continued: “Charter’s non-compliance and brazenly disrespectful behavior toward New York State and its customers necessitates the actions taken today seeking court-ordered penalties for its failures, and revoking the Charter merger approval.”
New York is requiring Charter to continued to “ensure no interruption in service is experienced by customers” during the 60-day transition period, adding that it “will take further steps, including seeking injunctive relief in Supreme Court” if Charter does not comply.
The state is also charging Charter $3 million in penalties.
In February, the New York Attorney General sued Charter, accusing it of lying about internet speeds. “The allegations in our lawsuit confirm what millions of New Yorkers have long suspected – Charter-Spectrum has been ripping you off,” the Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood’s office said in a statement at the time.
In a statement of its own, the company said: “In the weeks leading up to an election, rhetoric often becomes politically charged. But the fact is that Spectrum has extended the reach of our advanced broadband network to more than 86,000 New York homes and businesses since our merger agreement with the PSC. Our 11,000 diverse and locally based workers, who serve millions of customers in the state every day, remain focused on delivering faster and better broadband to more New Yorkers, as we promised.”