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CWA Files Objections to Altice-Cablevision Deal

CWA has filed official objections with the Federal Communications Commission over the proposed sale of Cablevision to Dutch company Altice.

The deal is not in the public interest, will lead to outsourcing of jobs and too much debt, CWA said, citing the Moody's ratings agency's concerns about the $8.6 billion in debt that Altice would take on to complete the purchase.

CWA represents 300 Cablevision technicians and workers in Brooklyn. These CWAers successfully ratified a contract with Cablevision in February 2015 after a multi-year fight with the company, first over union representation and then for a fair contract.

"Altice's track record in France and Portugal clearly shows the danger this deal poses to Cablevision's customers and employees," CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor said. "Altice takes on too much debt, outsources as much work as possible and then downsizes its workforce. Customers get worse service and employees lose their job. Unless Altice makes commitments to protect customer service and Cablevision employees, the FCC should reject this deal."

Read the full filing here. Altice has outlined plans to take on $8.6 billion in debt to finance the deal – on top of Cablevision's existing $5.9 billion in debt. This level of debt will require such deep cost-cutting at Cablevision that both staffing and network investments are likely to suffer, harming consumers and workers. As a result of the heavy debt financing, Moody's immediately put Cablevision under review for downgrade, noting that its eye-popping debt level "creates risk for a company in a capital intensive, competitive industry."

According to the filing, Altice's planned $1.05 billion cuts in operating expenses and capital expenditures will likely lead to significantly worse customer service. This has been the experience in France, where Deutsche Bank reports that over the past year, Altice-owned Numericable-SFR lost 5.4 percent (1.256 million) of its mobile subscribers, another 246,000 retail broadband subscribers, or 3.7 percent, and 719,000 home connections, 7.2 percent of subscribers.

In addition, in France and Portugal, Altice has a troubling track record of refusing to pay its contractors. Recently, two Altice companies were fined the equivalent of $410,000 (in Euros) for not paying its contractors.

CWA will weigh in with the New York State Public Service Commission, the New York City Franchise Concession Review Committee and the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, which play a role in reviewing the deal.