Reuters

(Reuters)

Charter Outlines Consumer Benefits in TWC Merger

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Charter Communications Inc <CHTR.O> formally argued for regulatory approval for its Time Warner Cable Inc <TWC.N> and Bright House Networks deals, saying consumers would benefit as Internet services would become cheaper and faster.

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Charter said in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday that it would not block or suppress Internet traffic or prioritize content for a fee and that its broadband services would cost less than the current offerings of Time Warner (TWC) and Bright House.

In its first official argument in support of the deals, Charter also said the new company would not harm online video services providers as its success would depend on the broadband business rather than on video services.

Charter would invest at least $2.5 billion in commercial areas and deploy over 300,000 out-of-home WiFi access points, according to the filing.

The company had in May announced its offer to buy bigger rival TWC for $56 billion, prompting a statement from the FCC that the deal would be reviewed to determine whether it was in the public interest.

Charter had said in March it would buy Bright House Networks for $10.4 billion to expand its cable network.

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The proposed deals mark a huge step towards industry consolidation, long advocated by cable pioneer John Malone, Charter's biggest shareholder, as the new company would control a big swath of the cable and Internet markets.

The FCC's concerns over risk to competition and innovation had made Comcast Corp <CMCSA.O> abandon a $45 billion acquisition of TWC in April.

Charter's takeover agreement with TWC includes a pledge to pay Time Warner Cable a $2-billion breakup fee if the deal falls through.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi)