Feb 14 (Reuters) - Comcast Corp said on Friday that a California Public Utilities Commission Administrative (CPUC) law judge recommended to approve its pending $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable and related transactions with Charter Communications.
The approval, characterized by Comcast as an “important step” for the overall regulatory process, was proposed with a set of conditions, including making broadband available to un-served and under-served communities.
Approval from California, the most populous U.S. state, is just one of a series of state and federal hurdles Comcast needs to clear to close the merger.
Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen said the company was reviewing the proposed decision but that some of the recommended conditions “could prevent the full benefits of this transaction being realized by Californians, and create a more intrusive regulatory regime where innovative services could be hampered rather than helped.”
In a statement, Cohen specifically cited the penetration rates and said the time frame related to making broadband more widely available to communities lacking service was “simply unattainable under market conditions.”
“We look forward to working with the Commission as it creates conditions to approve this transaction that are fair to consumers in California and to our company,” he said.
The overall approval of Comcast’s acquisition of Time Warner has been closely watched especially as regulators propose rules that adhere to net neutrality, or the notion that all internet providers should treat all web traffic equally.
Comcast said it already has the vast majority of state and local approvals necessary to close the deal. It is working with the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice toward a close in early 2015. (Reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York; Editing by Frances Kerry)