Charter's Rutledge Meets With FCC's Wheeler

CEO talks up deal as review shot clock ticks toward 200 days

With the Charter Communications-Time Warner Cable merger ticking well past its late March informal 180-day deadline for a decision (it is in day 198) -- and past when many had expected the deal to be approved with conditions -- Charter CEO Tom Rutledge met with FCC chairman Tom Wheeler last week to talk up the deal.

Also attending the April 6 meeting was FCC general counsel John Sallet, according to an ex parte filing from the commission.

The longer the deal goes undone, the millions more its costs to service the debt to do the deal, so Charter is certainly eager to have it closed from the regulatory end, presuming that is still the way it is going.

Rutledge talked of the benefits of the deal in terms of expanding broadband, Charter's commitment to no usage-based pricing and to settlement-free interconnections, according to the filing. Those are all thought to be key conditions on the merger.

Rutledge two weeks ago signaled that he is squarely behind Wheeler's proposal to reform Lifeline subsidies. Charter announced that as part of the proposed TWC deal it would offer a new low-cost broadband service for low-income consumers if the deal is approved.

The Charter-TWC decision had not been circulated at press time, according to an FCC source.