Today the Competitive Enterprise Institute filed its closing brief in its challenge to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 21-month delay on its petition concerning the Charter/Brighthouse/Time Warner cable merger. CEI’s June 2016 petition requested the agency to reconsider the conditions it imposed when it approved that merger. One of the dissenters from those conditions was Commissioner Ajit Pai, who is now FCC Chairman.
While the FCC has a statutory duty to respond to such petitions within 90 days, it has not acted on CEI’s petition for 21 months. CEI is requesting the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to grant CEI’s petition for mandamus and order the FCC to respond to the petition.
“It’s clear that the FCC’s conditions harm consumers and are an unauthorized attempt to micromanage the internet at the public’s expense,” said Ryan Radia. “In opposing our request for mandamus, the FCC has taken a position that would turn its statutory duty to act quickly into mere congressional suggestion.”
Along with its brief, CEI filed a declaration from Robert W. Crandall, an expert on telecomm regulatory policy, confirming the harm to consumers from the merger conditions and supporting CEI’s standing.
CEI argued in its 2016 petition that the FCC has no authority to place merger conditions on Charter that increase costs for consumers, who will have to foot the bill for an overreaching federal agency.
In October of 2015 CEI filed comments saying the FCC should grant the merger, but without conditions. In May 2016, the FCC approved the merger but with the unlawful conditions. In June 2016, CEI filed its petition and to date has heard no response from the agency. In December 2017, CEI filed a petition requesting a writ of mandamus compelling the FCC to respond to CEI’s 2016 petition. Today CEI filed its reply brief in that lawsuit.
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