The California Public Utilities Commission is still vetting an administrative judge recommendation that it approve the Comcast-TWC deal with conditions, but PUC commissioner Mike Florio isn't waiting for the vote, already signaling in an "alternative proposed decision" Friday (April 10) that he would deny it.
Florio concluded that the merger "will likely reduce competition in the markets for wholesale inputs such as special access used by competitive service providers [and] constraining consumer options for those competitive services" and that "no conditions could mitigate all of the negative impacts of the proposed transaction."
The news of Florio's official opposition drew praise from deal critics, who will have a chance to weigh in with the judge in support of Florio's alternative.
“This mega-merger is a lousy deal for California and the nation,” said Michael McCauley of Consumer Union. “We applaud commissioner Florio for adding his voice to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have already called for this merger to be rejected. The CPUC should stand with consumers and oppose this deal.”
The Writers Guild of America, West, said it "applauds ... Florio’s proposal to deny the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger here in California," adding, "Handing Comcast a near-monopoly in high-speed Internet service in California threatens continued progress towards a more diverse and competitive media landscape."
"We continue to believe the Administrative Law Judge’s decision, reached after months of briefings, analysis, and careful consideration, has properly recommended approval of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable-Charter transaction," said Comcast. "As the ALJ found, the transaction is strongly in the public interest and will bring a number of benefits to affected Time Warner Cable and Charter customers throughout the State of California.
"Comcast has persuasively demonstrated that these benefits will include faster Internet speeds, innovative video and voice services, Comcast’s nationally acclaimed broadband adoption program Internet Essentials, and Comcast’s commitment to workforce and supplier diversity. We appreciate the strong support the transaction has received from many elected officials, school districts, and nonprofit community organizations throughout California. And, we remain confident this process will ultimately lead to approval of the transaction."