FCC starts shot clock on Charter-Time Warner merger review

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Friday started an informal 180-day shot clock of its review of the merger between Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable. 

It opened up comment on the merger and released its protective order meant to protect confidential business information factored into the review, while also allowing certain authorized participants to read the confidential material. 

The comment deadline on the review is Oct. 13, with reply comments due by Nov. 2. A second round of replies are due by Nov. 12. 

Critics have criticized the shot clock, arguing the commission has frequently delayed it in the past and gone far over deadline. Some recent stalls on previous mergers dealt with legal action over the scope and handling of confidential information. 

The commission earlier this month received the necessary votes to finalize the protective order and allow the shot clock to start. But it was finalized and released Friday. 

Republicans on the commission have warned that the commission's proceedings expose too much sensitive business information during merger deals, possibly chilling production and other business decisions. 

The proposed merger, in which Charter would acquire Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, was announced in late May. That followed the failed merger of Comcast and Time Warner after regulators raised reservations about the deal's impact on the online video market. 

The merger must be approved by the FCC and the Justice Department. 

Charter has already agreed to abide by a number of self-imposed conditions of the merger, which has won over skeptics of the previous Comcast deal. The multibillion dollar deal, if approved, would create the third-largest satellite or cable company in the country and the second-largest Internet provider.