FCC approves $17 billion cable deal

The Federal Communications Commission has signed off on European firm Altice’s roughly $17 billion purchase of Cablevision.

A memo filed on Tuesday night by the agency said the deal “will serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity.”

{mosads}The $17.7 billion deal announced in September involves Altice taking Cablevision off the hands of the Dolan family, who also owns Madison Square Garden. They will also buy local news properties Newsday, amNewYork and News 12 Networks.

The deal still needs to be approved by state regulators.

The FCC noted that Altice had promised to upgrade Cablevision’s broadband service, which is primarily in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The agency’s team also found that the deal would not have an adverse effect on competition.

“Because Altice’s only existing interest in a U.S. communications entity, Suddenlink, has no overlapping facilities with Cablevision, they do not compete for customers in the same geographic area, nor are they likely to do so in the foreseeable future,” officials wrote.

At the time, the deal was reported to be poised to create the fourth largest cable operator in the country. It is one of several proposed tie-ups in the cable and pay-TV markets recently as industry players look to consolidate while facing new threats from the on-demand video market.

A larger merger, between Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, has yet to be officially approved by the commission. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has recommended that the commission do so while imposing conditions on the deal he says will protect customers and competition for video services.

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