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CEI Files Closing Brief in Lawsuit Against the FCC over Charter-Time Warner Merger Conditions

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The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and four individuals – John France, Daniel Frank, Jean-Claude Gruffat, and Charles Haywood – filed their closing brief yesterday in their appellate challenge to the conditions imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on the 2016 merger between three major U.S. cable companies.

In 2015, Charter, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks announced their planned merger and applied for approval to the FCC. The FCC approved the merger in 2016, but imposed a set of conditions that it claimed were necessary for the public interest. Then-Commissioner Ajit Pai, who has since been elevated to FCC Chairman, dissented, describing the conditions as politically-motivated “extortion” and warned that the agency had failed to explain how the conditions would address any potential harm caused by the license transfers.

CEI and the four individuals petitioned the FCC to reconsider its considerations. The FCC delayed acting on the reconsideration request for nearly two years before denying it. The case now before the court challenges the conditions imposed by the FCC, but the agency is attacking petitioners’ standing and has refused to address the merits of the case.

Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute President and General Counsel Melissa Holyoak, lead counsel for the petitioners, stated:

"The FCC once again refuses to address the legality of the merger conditions. The FCC did not have the authority to issue such conditions and the D.C. Circuit should reverse."

CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman said:

“The FCC characterizes its merger conditions as protecting the public. In fact, those conditions are a disservice to both telecom customers and the rule of law. We hope that the court turns down this agency’s unauthorized attempt to micromanage the internet.”

You can read the reply brief here.

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