Big Island residents’ input sought on planned Time Warner-Comcast merger

Hawaii cable customers stand to benefit from a planned merger of Oceanic Time Warner and Comcast Corp., according to a joint filing by the companies.

“The combination of Comcast and TWC will create a world-class communications, media, and technology company significantly better positioned than either company alone to bring consumers the advanced services they want now and will need in the future and to keep America at the forefront of technology and innovation,” reads the application, which seeks the transfer of control of Oceanic’s Hawaii cable franchises from Time Warner Cable to Comcast Corp.

Many consumer advocacy groups have called for the merger to be blocked by the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice, saying that such a union of the two largest cable providers in the country would negatively impact consumers.

Applications similar to the one before Hawaii’s DCCA have been filed in states around the country, said DCCA communications officer Brent Suyama. The Hawaii DCCA decision — anticipated to be made around Sept. 19 — would only apply to Oceanic franchises within the state. But before that decision is made, state residents will have a chance to weigh in on the change in ownership.

Residents are asked to say what they like or don’t like about their current cable service, what services they’d like to see, and what they feel their service is lacking, he said.

A series of public hearings on the merger will kick off at 4:30 p.m. July 14 at the West Hawaii Civic Center’s Community Hale. The windward side will have its say at 4:30 p.m. July 16 at the Aupuni Center conference room in Hilo.

Those who can’t make it to the meetings are also able to submit testimony before and after, via email at cabletv@dcca.hawaii.gov, fax at 586-2625 or mail at: Cable Television Division, Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, P.O. Box 541, Honolulu, HI 96809.

For more information on the merger application before the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, visit cca.hawaii.gov/catv/cable_operators/comcast-time-warner-merger.

Email Colin M. Stewart at cstewart@hawaiitribune-herald.com.