By ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Charter Spectrum, which merged with Time Warner Cable in 2016, has been booted from New York State due to alleged misconduct and failure to abide by the terms set by the state, New York Public Service Commissioner (PSC) John B. Rhodes announced on Friday.
Since the merger, Spectrum has taken heat from Local 3 IBEW union workers—who have held numerous rallies and strikes against the company—and from customers, who claim that they did not receive the services they were promised.
According to Rhodes, Spectrum repeatedly failed to meet deadlines or serve rural communities, conducted unsafe practices in the field, and failed to fully commit to its obligations under the 2016 merger agreement or accurately inform its customers and the commission about its performance and compliance obligations.
“Charter’s noncompliance and brazenly disrespectful behavior toward New York State and its customers necessitates the actions taken today seeking court-ordered penalties for its failures and revoking the Charter merger approval,” said Rhodes.
Queens elected officials, many of whom stood alongside Spectrum union workers during union rallies, praised the decision by the commission.
“Spectrum’s fate ought to be a warning: New York will not be held hostage by a company acting in bad faith,” said Councilman Francisco Moya (D-East Elmhurst). “When you fill your coffers with tax dollars while shortchanging customers and denying your employees fair contract, you will be held to account.”
Local 3 workers responded on Twitter to the commission’s decision. One worker wrote:
“When we striked, they screamed ‘sabotage,’ when we picket, they screamed ‘harassment’. Here’s some advice @GetSpectrum: if you obeyed the laws and did as the franchise mandated, you would have never brought so much heat to your greedy asses. You get back what you put out. #local3”
The commission ordered Charter Spectrum to pay $3 million in penalties and file a transition plan within 60 days to outline how the company would move its services over to another cable provider.
Federal and state laws allow for only one cable provider in any specific geographic area. Charter Spectrum has more than two million customers throughout the state, including hundreds of thousands in Queens. The company said that it intends to contest the ruling by the state PSC. Under state regulations, the company has 30 days to file an objection to the ruling. In a statement, Charter Spectrum claimed the move by the PSC was politically motivated.
“In the weeks leading up to an election, rhetoric often becomes politically charged. But the fact is that Spectrum has extended the reach of our advanced broadband network to more than 86,000 New York homes and businesses since our merger agreement with the PSC,” the statement read.
Industry experts expect a long legal battle to play out if Charter Spectrum contests the ruling. The PSC, in a press statement, said that customers will not be affected during the transition.
“To ensure that Charter’s customers are not negatively affected during that process, the commission further ordered the company to maintain service to the company’s more than two million customers in New York until an orderly transition occurs,” the statement read.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400, ext. 144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.