Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has a message for cable chiefs: Just because regulators leaned against the Comcast Corp. - Time Warner Cable Inc. merger doesn't mean all future cable deals are doomed. In recent days, Mr. Wheeler individually called Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Rob Marcus and Charter Communications Inc. CEO Tom Rutledge, as well as other cable executives, to convey that they shouldn't assume the agency is against any and all future cable deals just because the FCC's staff wasn't convinced the Comcast deal was in the public interest, according to people familiar with the calls. In the conversations, Mr. Wheeler didn't raise any particular potential deal, and neither did the cable CEOs. Mr. Wheeler told them that any deal would be assessed on its own merits, the people said. With rumors of potential tie-ups and deal talks swirling through the cable industry since Comcast abandoned its $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable in April, executives and investors have been wondering how much consolidation the government will actually allow.
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