Comcast Time Warner Cable deal delayed further by FCC

The $45 billion megadeal that will consolidate the US cable market faces yet another delay in its completion thanks to a bunch of documents Time Warner Cable (TWC) has only just presented to the US telco regulator, the FCC, despite the deal first being announced almost a year ago.

In a letter published by the FCC, full of legalese and oblique language, it was explained that “…in excess of 7,000 responsive documents had been withheld based on an inappropriate claim of attorney client privilege.” The long and short of it seems to have been that TWC has been holding back a bunch of documents for reasons known only to itself, but has now decided to hand them over.

The FCC, therefore needs more time to take in the implications of these new documents although, of course, it couldn’t just say that. Instead we have the following statement: “Accordingly, we are stopping the informal 180-day transaction clock as of the date of this letter for three weeks until the Commission staff has had an opportunity to review the documents and the revised privilege log for completeness. The clock will restart on January 12, 2015.”

This transaction clock seems to be almost totally meaningless as, firstly it’s “informal”, secondly the deal was first announced well over 180 days ago and thirdly, as we can see in this case, it can be suspended at any time.

The FCC explains at great length what an inconvenience this late presentation of the documents has proven. Not only does it need to check them out, it also needs to have another look at stuff it thought had been dealt with in the light of the new material. It makes it clear that it thinks TWC dropped the ball on this one.

Barring any further belated revelations, the deal is still expected to go through in early 2015. Unless they stop the transaction clock again, that is.

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