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Charter/Time Warner cable merger approved

US regulators have approved Charter Communications’ $78 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable, to create the second largest cable TV network in the US.

Stockholders in both companies still have until mid-May to approve the deal, but final approval now appears to be a formality.

The decisions, by the US Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission, also approved Charter’s $10.4 billion takeover of Bright House Networks.

The expanded Charter company will have 29 million customers, making it second only to Comcast, which has slightly more – though the exact numbers are subject to some adjustment, as Comcast and Charter are expected to swap some local franchises.

Rob Marcus, CEO of Time Warner Cable, welcomed the news. CNN Money quoted him as saying: “We are pleased to reach this critical step in the regulatory review of our merger with Charter, and remain optimistic that the transaction will be finalised soon.”

Comcast bid in 2015 to buy Time Warner Cable but the attempt failed due to regulatory opposition.

The completion of the deal means the US cable industry will be dominated by two giant operators, both also providing telecoms services, in the same way that the mobile and fixed telecoms industry is now effectively a duopoly of AT&T and Verizon.

Each cable operator – like each fixed telephone provider – is a monopoly in any one city or region.

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