CEI Asks Court to Invalidate the FCC’s Costly Conditions on 2016 Charter Cable Merger

internet litigation

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and four cable customers yesterday filed the opening brief in their challenge to the wide-ranging conditions imposed by the FCC in 2016, when it approved the merger of Charter, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. In CEI et al v. FCC, CEI argues that the FCC went beyond its legal authority by mandating that New Charter, the company created by the merger, build out its network to agency specifications, provide a low-income broadband program, and refrain from usage-based pricing. CEI also contends that the FCC failed to consider the harm that these conditions would cause to New Charter’s customers.

When the FCC issued its decision, two of its commissioners strongly dissented from the conditions, arguing that the agency was simply “advancing its ambitious agenda to micromanage the Internet economy.”  One of those commissioners was Ajit Pai, who is now chairman of the agency.

CEI had originally petitioned the agency to reconsider the conditions.  Despite a statutory requirement that the FCC act on such petitions within 90 days, the agency stonewalled CEI’s petition for more than two years.  When CEI challenged that delay in court, the agency finally acted, denying CEI’s petition on the eve of the scheduled court hearing.  That led to CEI filing the current case in the DC Circuit.

“CEI has demonstrated that the FCC imposed unlawful conditions on the Charter merger that would increase costs for consumers, forcing them to foot the bill for an overreaching federal agency,” said CEI Senior Attorney Melissa Holyoak. “We are asking the court to apply the statute and find the FCC has no authority to micromanage the internet at the public’s expense.”

You can read CEI’s opening brief for the DC Circuit here

For more information on CEI et al v. FCC, please visit the case page.