New York Regulators Poised to Halt Comcast Merger

State has different set of rules than federal regulators.

The Washington Post reports that New York regulators could throw a monkey wrench into the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger.

Since recent changes in the state’s cable franchise laws, New York has vowed to take a close look at the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger. In May, Gov. Andrew Cuomo pledged a “hands-on review” of the proposal, and on Thursday, the state public service commission (PSC) will hold the last of three hearings this week to consider the acquisition.

If Comcast fails to convince state regulators that buying up Time Warner Cable (TWC) would benefit consumers, the PSC has the power to block the merger from happening within the state, says Brad Ramsay, the top lawyer for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

That wouldn’t scuttle the entire merger — just in New York — but that might be enough to send the whole enterprise back to the drawing board. Why? Because New York is a big part of the deal.

Comcast has a fraction of the customers in New York that TWC has — 23,000 versus more than 2.5 million. Considering that the entire merger nationwide would give Comcast control over 30 million subscribers, New Yorkers alone would account for nearly 10 percent of merger company’s total customer base.

“We believe there are significant benefits to New York customers for this deal, and there’s no reduction in competition — consumers will have the same number of choices before the deal as after it,” said Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice.