WASHINGTON, April 25 (UPI) -- The chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Monday recommended the approval of the $65 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks by Charter Communications.
The green light is the first step in clearing the way for the merger, which would create one of the country's largest broadband providers. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler approved the deal with stipulations intended to prohibit monopolistic practices.
As part of the deal, Charter will not impose data limits on users and will obey net neutrality rules.
"The order outlines a number of conditions in place for seven years that will directly benefit consumers by bringing and protecting competition to the video marketplace and increasing broadband deployment," Wheeler said in a statement Monday.
"Specific FCC conditions will focus on removing unfair barriers to video competition. ... New Charter will be prohibited from charging interconnection fees, including to online video providers, which deliver large volumes of internet traffic to broadband customers," he continued. "The cumulative impact of these conditions will be to provide additional protection for new forms of video programming services offered over the Internet."
The new company aims to become the second-largest U.S. broadband provider, with about 19.4 million subscribers, and the third-largest video provider with 17.3 million subscribers -- behind only Comcast and DIrecTV.
The Department of Justice closely monitored the proposed merger to make sure it did not violate antitrust laws.
"We are pleased that Chairman Wheeler has submitted the proposed conditions for consideration by the full Commission and that the DOJ has submitted its agreement for approval by the court," Charter said in a statement. "The conditions that will be imposed ensure Charter's current consumer-friendly and pro-broadband businesses practices will be maintained by New Charter."
The other four FCC commissioners must now approve the deal.