Charter Communications will no longer be Auburn’s cable television provider, if everything goes according to plan over the next 9 months. Comcast Corporation has filed a request for license transfer from Charter to Comcast. The first public hearing will be held at the Selectman’s meeting on Monday, August 11 at 7:10pm.
The change dates back to merger discussions dating to late 2013 and early 2014. Comcast and Time Warner announced a$45 billion merger proposal back in February. While the companies have agreed to terms, the deal still requires regulatory approval. In an effort to win this approval and to avoid antitrust issues, Comcast and Charter have agreed to swap customers in many regions including Massachusetts. Comcast is also setting up a separate, publicly traded company that will serve about 2.5 million current Comcast customers.
According to a Comcast statement, the company plans to honor all contractual obligations Charter currently has with its customers. This would include special limited time pricing, such as Charter’s ‘Triple Play’ 12 month and 24 month promotional rates.
What is less clear is what the change will mean to customers, when the switch will happen, or even if it will happen. Services such as Charter Cloud storage and even Charter e-mail could be affected, if customers are not allowed to keep their Charter e-mail addresses.
The fact that Comcast has begun filing for transfer of license hearings in Mass. cities and towns is a pretty good indication that things are moving forward. But the deal does still face hurdles and until the ink is dry, nothing is certain.
More than likely, however, customers will not notice much of anything aside from new logos, at least in the near term. Mergers of this size move along slowly, and for an infrastructure-intensive industry like cable, changing hardware and equipment is expensive and time consuming. Charter currently serves 53 Massachusetts cities and towns, all of which are slated to move to Comcast under the merger plan.
Full text of the Public Transfer Hearing Notice filed with the Auburn Board of Selectmen.
TOWN OF AUBURN CHARTER COMCAST CABLE LICENSE TRANSFER HEARING
Pursuant to MGL c. 166A, s. 7 and 207 CMR 4.01 et seq, the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Auburn, in its statutory capacity as cable license Issuing Authority, shall hold a public hearing on an application to transfer control of the cable television license of Charter Communications, Inc. to Comcast Corporation. The Comcast and Charter license transfer application (FCC Form 394) is available for public inspection at Town Hall. The Issuing Authority will consider the proposed change of control based on review of applicant’s managerial, technical, financial and legal ability to operate the cable system pursuant to the existing Charter license. The hearing will be held at 7:10 p.m., August 11, 2014, at the Selectmen’s meeting room, 2nd floor of Town Hall, 104 Central Street, Auburn, MA 01501. By order of the Board of Selectmen as Issuing Authority. For further information contact Bill Schiebler, Chair, Local Cable Committee at (508) 414-7378. July 28 and August 4, 2014