Board of Supervisors Scolds Suddenlink in Letter to FCC
Press release provided by Humboldt County:
The Board of Supervisors for Humboldt County California filed a timely letter with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opposing Altice S.A. (a Luxembourg entity) purchase of Suddenlink (aka Cequel Corporation, a Delaware Corporation) and citing non-compliance with local ordinances.
The Board of Supervisors’ action was initiated at the request of the League of Women Voters of Humboldt County, raising the general issue of absentee ownership as well as a specific local concern about underpayment of Public, Education, Government (PEG) grant fees that Suddenlink owes to Access Humboldt as a condition of their cable franchise.
The FCC is currently reviewing Suddenlink’s application for a transfer of control from Cequel Corp. to Altice S.A. – with majority interest to be held by Patrick Drahi an Israeli citizen (approx. 45%) along with BC Partners from UK (approx. 15%), and CPP Investment Board using Canada Pension Plan assets (approx. 15%).
Details of the transfer application are available online via this public notice released on June 24, 2015: http://transition.fcc.gov/
Comments & Petitions are due July 24, 2015 and Reply Comments are due August 10, 2015.
The Board of Supervisors’ letter to the FCC states that “consolidated absentee ownership reduces competition, threatens media localism and harms information diversity.” Further the letter asks that the FCC require Suddenlink to comply with local ordinances and notes: “In August 2014, Suddenlink was informed that they are out of compliance with local ordinances adopted by the County of Humboldt and the cities of Eureka, Arcata, Fortuna, Rio Dell, Ferndale and Blue Lake.”
Attached below is Humboldt County Board of Supervisors’ letter filed today (July 23, 2015) in the FCC proceeding (15-135): Domestic Section 214 Transfer of Control Cequel Corporation-Altice S.A. Letter to FCC Re Altice Acquisition of Suddenlink.pdf
More information about the FCC proceeding and public filings are all online here:
Also attached below is the League of Women Voters’ letter of June 7, 2015 from Byrd Lochtie, Co-President to the County Board of Supervisors. LWV ltr to HumCo BoS re FCC.pdf
Sean McLaughlin, executive director of Access Humboldt said, “we are working with the County and Cities to give Suddenlink every opportunity to do the right thing – but thus far Suddenlink’s owners are putting corporate profits over the interests of the communities they serve in Humboldt County. So, it is not a surprise that our elected representatives on the County Board of Supevisors are taking this action, requested by League of Women Voters of Humboldt County, to register a strong vote of no confidence to the FCC.” He added, “perhaps the new owners will make good, ensure that Suddenlink pays reasonable fees to support local community media, and help to rebuild local trust in their management.”
For more information, contact: Sean McLaughlin, Access Humboldt, firstname.lastname@example.org