New York state blesses Charter-Time Warner Cable deal

New York state signed off on Charter Communication’s proposed purchase of Time Warner Cable on Friday, an expression of faith in the deal as it awaits federal approval.

The state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) approved the deal on the condition that the cable provider offer customers minimum download speeds of 60 Mbps in New York. The company will also invest in customer service improvements, among other commitments.

“This is a significant step forward, not only for Charter but also for our future customers, and we are very happy to have obtained this approval from the New York State PSC,” said Tom Rutledge, the CEO of St. Louis-based Charter, in a statement on Friday.

State officials hailed the deal as good for consumers. They said in a statement that the sale would generate about $1.1 billion in economic benefits and investment and bring broadband service to 145,000 homes and businesses that currently lack access.

The decision in New York comes as the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice weigh whether to approve the deal. Charter is also seeking to buy Bright House Networks, a smaller cable provider.

Opponents of the sale, which include public interest groups and companies like Dish Networks, say that consolidating the two cable companies would reduce competition in the video market. Similar complaints helped to sink the proposed sale of Time Warner to Comcast, but the Charter deal has yet to spark the same public ire that haunted that deal.

Charter says that its proposed purchase wouldn't create the same kind of cable behemoth that would have been formed with the combination of Time Warner Cable and Comcast, the two largest cable providers in the country.

Regulators have not given much guidance as to when they will make a decision on the deal. This month, the FCC paused its "shot clock" on the merger until January 20 to review documentation related to the deal.