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TiVo joins Charter merger noise bandwagon, cites CableCard concerns

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TiVo has joined the mounting chorus of noise surrounding Charter Communications' (NASDAQ: CHTR) bid to acquire Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and Bright House Networks. 

On Tuesday, TiVo's top attorney, Matthew Zinn, and his team met with FCC commissioners, expressing their concern about Charter's continued willingness to continue supporting CableCard, the security tech standard that allows TiVo set-tops purchased at retail to be used in the pay-TV ecosystem. 

TiVo spokesman Steve Wymer reached out to FierceCable after this article was originally published and stressed that his company isn't opposing the merger, merely seeking conditions to the merger.

At the center of these worries is a 2013 waiver on the CableCard mandate for cable companies issued by the FCC. 

"The 2013 waiver permits Charter to stop provisioning new CableCards to consumers once a third-party device compatible with Charter's downloadable security is available for purchase at retail -- even if no consumers actually purchase or are even aware of the availability of such device, and even though such downloadable security does nothing to assure a retail market for navigation devices due to limitations inherent in the solution or imposed by Charter," TiVo said in an ex parte filing after Tuesday's meeting. 

As TiVo noted, the waiver was granted by the FCC to Charter, in part, because the MSO's footprint is "the least densely concentrated among the six largest operators."

But the merged "New Charter," TiVo contends, would serve four times as many subscribers, serving densely populated areas like New York and Los Angeles. 

"Thus, the proposed merger raises serious concerns about the ability for consumers to have a choice of competitive retail set-top boxes in areas served by the merged company," TiVo added. 

News of TiVo's concern comes one day after Dish Network, along with a collection of 16 technology company consortiums, labor unions and activist groups, announced the formation of "Stop Mega Cable," a group which seeks to halt Charter's merger plans. 

"If Comcast's deal for Time Warner Cable was a Category 5 hurricane, Charter-Time Warner is a Category 4," said Jeff Blum, deputy general counsel of Dish Network, in a press conference announcing the new coalition. 

For more:
- read this TiVo letter to the FCC
- read this New York Times story

Related articles:
Dish, Public Knowledge reprise 'Stop Mega' merger roles, lead coalition to stop Charter-TWC merger
Dish ex parte: Charter views Sling as a 'serious competitive threat'
Dish targets Charter-Bright House deal in latest FCC filing

Article updated Jan. 22 to clarify that TiVo is not opposing the merger but seeking conditions.

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