The New York State Public Service Commission has voted to rescind approval of Stamford-based Charter Communications’ merger with Time Warner Cable, due to what the commission said was Charter’s “repeated failures to serve New Yorkers and honor its commitments.”
The move could end Charter’s presence in the state and force it to cede its internet, television and phone services to another company.
The merger was approved by the commission in 2016 with several provisos, including that Charter expand its Spectrum services to 145,000 New York homes, mostly in rural areas, within four years. Progress has apparently been too slow for the commission, which called Charter’s activities “wholly deficient” and said that it could “no longer in good faith and conscience” allow the company to continue to operate in New York.
In June, the commission fined Charter $2 million for what it ruled was the lackadaisical pace of the company’s progress. Its latest ruling adds another $1 million to that figure.
For its part, Charter issued a statement after the June ruling saying that it was on schedule to meet the 145,000 milestone by May 2020. “We exceeded our last commitment and we continue to meet our merger obligations,” it said in a statement.
Charter also questioned the timing of the commission’s findings, obliquely referring to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s derisive comments about the pace of the company’s rollout as well as its ongoing fight with Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which has been striking against Charter for over a year.
“In the weeks leading up to an election, rhetoric often becomes politically charged,” the Stamford company said, referring to Cuomo’s bid for a third term this fall. “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.”
Charter said it plans to challenge the commission’s rulings.