Vote Delayed on Cable Deal that Could Involve NYCHA

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Maximilian Schönherr

The state’s Public Service Commission on Thursday delayed its vote on the proposed Comcast-Time Warner merger and is likely to decide on the deal next month.

As Jay Cassano reported here on Wednesday, one of the conditions that the PSC is being urged to add to the deal is a requirement that the combined company provide free Internet access to NYCHA residents:

Two weeks ago, California’s equivalent of the PSC, the Public Utilities Commission, approved the merger with similar conditions such as expanding Internet Essentials to all low-income Californians and setting an enrollment quota for the program., Notably, California’s conditions were lacking the requirement for free Internet in public housing. Even so, Comcast reeled at California’s requirements, calling them intrusive and unrealistic.

“New York City is the landlord for nearly half a million New Yorkers living in 178,000 public housing units,” says City Councilman Ben Kallos. “With the digital divide so big and income inequality being one of the primary causes, we need to make sure that every single New Yorker has access to the Internet. And that starts with our very low income living in public housing.”

The New York City Housing Authority’s City-Wide Council of Presidents (CCOP), the representative body for public-housing residents in the city, joined Kallos and James in calling for these merger conditions.

“We believe that the best way to close the digital divide between those who have quality Internet access and those who do not is to connect all NYCHA buildings to a free broadband connection,” says Reginald Bowman, president of the CCOP.

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