Malone’s Charter Gets TWC and BH! FCC Endorses Overbuilding!

By Paul Maxwell Report Archives
Cover image for  article: Malone’s Charter Gets TWC and BH! FCC Endorses Overbuilding!

It didn’t take long to prove persistence pays! One busy Memorial Day weekend had Charter getting to be a close No. 2. Charter will add both Bright House and Time Warner Cable jumping it into the big(ger) time with about 24 million customers … less than 3 million behind Comcast (for now). Two years ago, Charter bid for TWC when it was at $120/share. Take that 20 and add it to today’s about $170 and get $100 cash (a lot coming from Liberty Broadband’s $4.3B latest investment) plus so many Charter shares at $176.96) and get a bid and win at $195.71/share.

Comcast has about 22.4 million broadband subs. Charter will have as many as 19.5M if this all closes.

Also-ran bidder Patrick Drahi, controller of Altice, used to work for UPC … and Dr. John Malone.  They know each other well and until now have stayed pretty much out of one another’s hair.  Just recently, Liberty Global beat out Altice buying Royal KPN NV’s Belgian carrier base.  Then Altice surprised everyone except Jerry Kent by announcing they’ll acquire control of Suddenlink.

The resulting board meetings should be interesting with Liberty entities, Advance Publications and lots of debt.  Of note, Liberty and Advance heads also serve together on Discovery’s board.

Next steps: Welcome back to the top of US cable, John … now, which systems will Charter offer to Comcast?  Swap some maybe?  And, whither the fans at the FCC (see below) and the DoJ?  And, who will buy Cablevision?

Meanwhile, looks like Dr. Malone might add Vodafone to Liberty Global …

In Other Items of Interest:

Gee, a new law in Russia limits foreign ownership of media restricting any investor to a maximum 20% stake.  So Finland’s Sanoma is selling its 33% of Vedomosti, the leading Russian business paper, and The Moscow Times, the only English-language daily, to Demyan Kudryavtsev.  Interesting to watch Russia revert to such autocratic ways.  Is the old Pravda returning?

Will anyone save The(New York) Daily News?

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Federal Confusion Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler called a handful of cable CEOs and told them any potential future consolidation would be “assessed on its own merits.”  Kind of a green light of sorts there … if anyone can figure out where the FCC might draw a line in the sand.  The deals above talk to the importance of scale.  Meanwhile, Tom always talks competition.  But would any major cable company that isn’t WOW overbuild?  Even the big over-builders (AT&T and Verizon) have cut back expansion on the ground.  In other FCC news, Tom does seem to like TiVo’s Tom Rogers.

It is a first step, I suppose, in redefining the media ecosystems.  So kudos to Sean Cunningham for leading the Cable Television Advertising Bureau a little into the future by expanding it to include broadcasting and renaming it the Video Advertising Bureau.  Nothing yet about clicks, though.

So Apple’s iTV wants local broadcasters, too.  They’re looking at a “legal” (?) version of Aereo.  Good luck.

Congress, which is supposed to be back in session this week, won’t be.  They’ve realized they can only agree on so much and so much has been agreed upon.  They’ve decided to stay in their districts and states campaigning fulltime until the next election.  Reportedly, only DC’s best restaurants are at all concerned.

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