Charter announces Time Warner purchase

Thousands of local residents and businesses now tuning into Time Warner Cable for their cable, Internet and telephone services could be among Charter Communications’ customers by the end of the year.

Charter Communications on Tuesday announced plans to buy Time Warner Cable for $55.33 billion – pending approval of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and U.S. Department of Justice.

Time Warner CEO Rob Marcus said he’s confident the transaction will be approved.

Representatives from both companies said they do not expect significant job losses or changes in staffing because of the merger. They said customers can expect some changes in programming and services.

Attempts by the Tribune Chronicle to reach someone at the local Time Warner office in Warren were not successful on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for New York City-based Time Warner, which has 2.13 million customers in Ohio, said several “transitional steps” would be taken over the next year, but most of those changes likely would not be noticeable to customers. He did not have information about how many customers Time Warner has in Trumbull County.

A spokesman for Charter, based in Stanford, Conn., said Time Warner customers would automatically become customers of Charter Spectrum if the sale were approved. Charter, founded in 1993, doesn’t have contracts that require customers to stay with the company for a specified period of time.

The deal comes a month after Comcast, the country’s largest cable provider and owner of NBCUniversal, walked away from a $45.2 billion bid for Time Warner Cable, the No. 2 cable company, after intense pressure from regulators.

The government worried that the company would be able to undermine increasingly popular online video competitors like Netflix because the bigger Comcast would have more than half the country’s high-speed Internet customers.

There has been a wave in consolidation in the cable industry as providers are starting to lose TV subscribers, costs for TV, sports and movies rise and pressure from online video services such as Netflix and Hulu increases. The traditional cable ecosystem is breaking up. For example, you can subscribe to HBO online without having to pay for cable, or pay for a smaller group of channels that you watch via a Sony PlayStation.

Charter also announced Tuesday that it is buying Bright House Networks, a smaller cable provider, for $10.4 billion. The company, combined with Time Warner Cable and Bright House, would have nearly 24 million customers in 41 states.

The deal comes with a $2 billion breakup fee if it doesn’t go through. If regulators don’t approve it, Charter would pay Time Warner Cable; if Time Warner Cable kills the deal and goes with another buyer, it’ll pay.

Time Warner Cable had chosen the Comcast deal and rejected a $38 billion hostile offer from Charter in early 2014.