Communications Daily Discusses NYPSC vs. Charter Case with Shubha Ghosh

Posted on Thursday 8/2/2018
Shubha Ghosh

NY PSC Punishment Expected to Bring Charter to Table

(Communications Daily | Aug. 2, 2018) Charter Communications probably will feel pressure to talk deal after the New York Public Service Commission took back OK of the Time Warner Cable buy, experts said in interviews. Some said the PSC probably lacks authority to undo the deal. A Public Knowledge attorney said the PSC is within its rights. Charter will defend itself in court, if necessary, CEO Thomas Rutledge said Tuesday.

The PSC shocked observers Friday by ordering the cable ISP out of the state, seeking civil penalties for allegedly not meeting broadband expansion conditions in the 2016 TWC order. 

Charter claims it exceeded those conditions. “This will lead to … serious negotiations for Charter to come up with a plan to meet the state’s concerns,” predicted Phillips Lytle’s David Bronston. The agency’s “nuclear” action is “uncharted territory,” the New York telecom attorney said. “I don’t see this as creating the new norm,” but it shows the state following through on threats, he said. The company and commission didn’t comment Wednesday.

It seems like a “strategic move” to increase pressure on the company, since the regulator probably lacks authority to unwind a national deal DOJ cleared, said Syracuse University law professor Shubha Ghosh. 

But it’s not “government overreach” for the PSC to review and condition a deal with a regulated company, and the agency may have a case that Charter didn’t move quickly enough to comply with conditions, he said. 

Ghosh doubted a court would agree the appropriate remedy is to banish Charter, especially since the goal was expanded service. Ghosh sees two sets of issues: “whether [Charter] has complied or not, and then if it hasn’t complied, what the next steps should be" ...

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