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Merger of Charter and Bright House clears last hurdle; deal will close next week

California regulators Thursday unanimously approved a deal allowing the merger of Charter Communications with Bright House Networks and Time Warner Cable, clearing the way for the companies to close the deal next week. [Times files] 
California regulators Thursday unanimously approved a deal allowing the merger of Charter Communications with Bright House Networks and Time Warner Cable, clearing the way for the companies to close the deal next week. [Times files] 
Published May 13, 2016

California regulators Thursday approved a deal allowing the merger of Charter Communications with Bright House Networks and Time Warner Cable, clearing the way for the companies to close the merger next week.

Charter, which will become the nation's second-largest cable provider behind Comcast, has already received approval by the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department.

A Charter spokesman said the deal would be closed some time next week.

"We are pleased to have now obtained all approvals," said Charter CEO Tom Rutledge in a written statement. "We look forward to closing these transactions next week and to begin delivering the many benefits of these transactions to consumers."

The merger is drawing particular attention in Tampa Bay after Frontier Communications' problematic takeover of Verizon's landline phone, TV and Internet assets on April 1. Many Frontier customers reported long service outages and other issues that apparently still continue for some.

Charter officials promise that their transition will be free of major problems, noting that the merger will be implemented over time. And as in the Frontier merger, Charter has said customers bills will remain unchanged.

Conditions imposed by federal officials on the merger include a requirement that Charter extend high-speed Internet service for 2 million additional customers within five years. Charter also agreed not to impose data caps on consumers for seven years and said it would not impose higher fees to any content providers, such as Netflix, for access to the Charter network.

Charter also noted it will retain Bright House employees, a move that will help ensure a smooth transition. Frontier made some of the same assurances before its acquisition of Verizon assets.

Contact William R. Levesque at levesque@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3432. Follow @Times_Levesque.