Charter Communications in Talks to Buy Bright House Networks

Charter Communications is in talks to acquire cable operator Bright House Networks in an all-stock deal that would add more than 2 million subscribers to Charter’s base.

News of the talks was first reported by Bloomberg News. A rep for Charter declined to comment while a rep for Stamford, Conn.-based Bright House, owned by publishing mogul S.I. Newhouse’s Advance Publications, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Charter is the nation’s fourth-largest cable operator with more than 6 million subscribers. It’s poised to grow substantially if it is able to complete a deal with Comcast to acquire systems serving another 3.9 million subscribers in a series of transactions tied to Comcast’s completion of its merger agreement with Time Warner Cable.

Time Warner Cable has had an agreement with Bright House to manage its cable systems since 2003. The fate of that arrangement has been up in the air with the Comcast merger, which may have spurred Advance’s interest in selling out to Charter. Bloomberg pegged the value of the deal as possibly reaching $12 billion, based on the general pricing range for the pending Charter-Comcast transaction.

Bright House ranks as the sixth-largest cable operation. John Malone’s Liberty Media has been buying up Charter stock and drove the company’s effort in 2013 to acquire Time Warner Cable before Comcast swooped in with a $45.2 billion stealth acquisition pact that is awaiting approvals from the FCC and Justice Department.

The Comcast-Time Warner Cable union has stirred a firestorm of debate about anti-trust and media consolidation concerns as it would greatly expand Comcast’s footprint as the nation’s leading provider of broadband service. The FCC is expected to vote on the deal within the next month. That decision will come on the heels of the commission’s overhaul of net neutrality policy — regulations that will have repercussions for Comcast and other cable operators but could pave the way for the FCC to OK the merger.



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