BUFFALO, N.Y. - Charter Communications would seek to add 20,000 jobs in the United States if it officially acquires Time Warner Cable as a part of the largest deal in the history of the industry, a Charter spokesman told 2 On Your Side on Tuesday.
On Monday, the Department of Justice approved Charter's merger with Time Warner and Bright House Networks, a transaction worth more than $60 billion. The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission has also submitted terms for approval, which clears a path for Charter to eventually gain its final approval from a regulatory commission in California.
The deal has major implications for Western New York, where more than 300,000 people subscribe to Time Warner Cable. The company also employs more than 1,000 people in the Buffalo area.
Justin Venech, a Charter spokesperson, said the "New Charter" would operate with the same business model after the merger. The company added 7,000 jobs last year, he said, and it would look to add roughly 20,000 employees under a new company.
Venech emphasized that local employees would be important to the business model.
Charter's acquisition would elevate it to the top of the cable and Internet industry, making it one of three powerful companies as a type of oligopoly, according to SUNY Buffalo School of Law professor Christine Bartholomew.
She said the merger could lead to higher consumer prices.
"If this follows a traditional oligopoly model, there's a concern that consumers will see price hikes in the future," Bartholomew said.
However, the FCC and Department of Justice have placed restrictions on Charter in the agreement terms. For example, Charter wouldn't be allowed to place a cap on how much data a customer could use.
"I think there is some concern from consumer groups," Bartholomew said, "that while these conditions are a good first step, they may not have gone far enough to protect long-term consumer pricing."
In a statement, Venech praised the FCC and Department of Justice.
"The conditions that will be imposed ensure Charter's current consumer-friendly and pro-broadband businesses practices will be maintained by New Charter," according to the statement. "We are confident New Charter will be a leading competitor in the broadband and video markets and are optimistic that we will soon receive final approval from federal regulators as well as the California PUC."
Under a separate agreement in New York state, Charter will need to expand service into more than 100,000 homes statewide. The agreement also urges Charter to expand the same high-speed service it offers in New York City into the rest of upstate.