Brindisi writes letter to FCC regarding Spectrum, Spectrum responds

Rep. Anthony Brindisi of Utica says he has written a letter to the F.C.C. urging the agency not to allow Spectrum out of its merger agreement with Time Warner from 2016.

Posted: Aug 7, 2020 6:48 PM
Updated: Aug 8, 2020 10:14 AM

NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. - Congressman Anthony Brindisi has written a letter to the F.C.C. urging the agency not to grant Spectrum's request to get out their agreement they made when they merged with Time Warner in 2016.

Brindisi held a press conference Friday afternoon in front of the Spectrum store at Consumer Square in New Hartford.

Brindisi says Spectrum is trying to get something passed quietly through the F.C.C. that would effect your internet bill and he is asking the FCC to listen to him and not let this through.
Brindisi says back in 2016, Spectrum merged with Time Warner and as part of the agreement allowing the merger, Spectrum's parent company, Charter Communications, signed an agreement that agreed not to cap data usage or charge more for it, or charge interconnection fees to competing online providers like Netflix and Sling.

Brindisi says if the FCC allows Spectrum to get out their merger agreement terms early, that would mean your internet bill would go up, "In my world a deal is a deal and Spectrum should be forced to live by the terms of the agreement that they signed onto on the dotted line."

We did reach out to Spectrum's corporate office for comment, and received one Friday evening.

Charter Communications Senior Communications Director Lara Pritchard released the following statement,  “The online video marketplace has exploded in the four years since the merger, which the FCC recognized as a possibility then and therefore included a framework in the 2016 merger approval for these two conditions to sunset in May 2021. Charter has made clear it has no plans to implement data caps or charge for interconnection, but the FCC merger order requires Charter to file this Petition between May 18 and August 18, 2020, or risk losing the sunset option and the flexibility to operate differently two years from now, which every other internet service provider has."

We also reached out to Claudia Tenney, Brindisi's Republican opponent in this year's 22nd Congressional District race.

Tenney says a big part of Brindisi's congressional campaign against her in 2018 involved him promised to fix the problems with Spectrum if he was elected. Tenney says so far hasn't delivered. She says since Brindisi took office,Spectrum has still had a number of rate hikes, "Four that have had to do with cable and two that have had to do with internet rates since he's been elected, so it's a broken promises, he is not fixed Spectrum."

Brindisi says he has introduced a bill into the House to hold Spectrum accountable and portions of that legislation we're just included in the House Infrastructure Bill, "The problem is in the Senate, the leaders in the Senate don't want to move the legislation over there."

No word on how soon the FCC may take up Spectrum's request to get out of its merger agreement.

Charter did respond with the following statement:

“The online video marketplace has exploded in the four years since the merger, which the FCC recognized as a possibility then and therefore included a framework in the 2016 merger approval for these two conditions to sunset in May 2021. Charter has made clear it has no plans to implement data caps or charge for interconnection, but the FCC merger order requires Charter to file this Petition between May 18 and August 18, 2020, or risk losing the sunset option and the flexibility to operate differently two years from now, which every other internet service provider has.

Connecting families across New York is not a political game for us. Since 2016, Charter has demonstrated its long-term commitment to improving lives and communities across the state, beginning with boosting starting speeds to at least 100 Mbps and offering gigabit service, with no modem fees, no data caps, and no contracts. At the same time, we have extended Spectrum Internet to nearly 110,000 homes and small business in upstate New York, with an additional 35,000 to be connected by this time next year. At the beginning of the pandemic crisis, we provided two months of free broadband to new households with kids and teachers that needed it, kept those facing COVID-related financial hardship connected, and forgave $85 million in customer debt. Earlier this year, Charter announced and began the hiring of more than 1,500 New Yorkers – including hundreds upstate. Across the state, our more than 10,800 employees earn at least $15 per hour, more than double the federal minimum wage – and we’re in the process of raising it to $20 within two years. Our business is inherently local and we are committed to continuing to offer high-quality connectivity services and continued support for communities served by Spectrum and where our customers and employees live and work.”

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