FCC Stops Comcast-NBCU Shot Clock Again
Commission seeks do-over, says companies did not follow directions in data request
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 6/24/2010 5:20:47 PM
The commission says that the companies returned incomplete answers and did not follow the directions in responding to a May FCC request for a raft of information from both on everything from organizational structure and channel lineups to copies of all programming agreements and detailed discussions of all deliberations in making content available online.
The commission sent letters to the two Thursday, informing them that the FCC would put the brakes on vetting the merger until such time as they had complied fully.
The first stoppage came April 16 (after only 29 days) so that the companies could supply FCC-solicited reports on the economic benefits of the deal and one on its impact on online content distribution. The commission also gave commenters a chance to weigh the impact, if any, of the April 6 BitTorrent decision that called into question the FCC's ability to regulate broadband. The clock was re-started June 3.
Some groups had complained that the companies data drops were not in an easily readable form and asked the commission to move its June 21 comment deadline. But the commission last week declined to do so, saying that if that data raised new issues that needed to be addressed, they could seek a "good cause" exemption to the FCC's instructions that all issues must be addressed in the comments or petitions to deny that were due June 21.
In separate letters to Comcast and NBCU, Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake said that after its review of the material submitted June 11, the FCC had concluded that the companies "[have] not fully complied with the instructions supplied with the Information Request... In light of the foregoing, we have directed NBCU to review, revise and supplement its responses and associated materials, as necessary, to correct these and any other deficiencies that it uncovers as a result of this review, and submit those responses and associated materials, as so revised and supplemented."
And while the FCC's own timeclock for reviewing the merger Thursday still said June 24 was day 50, Lake said the commission was turning back the clock. "Until such time as NBCU submits these materials," he said, and Comcast has made a similar filing, "the transaction timeclock in this proceeding shall remain paused as of June 11, 2010, the date on which NBCU's response was initially due."
"There were technical issues with the submission," said Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice, "and we will resubmit the information as requested as soon as possible."
The stoppage does not affect the pleading cycle, which means that the next round of comments are due July 21 and the replies Aug. 5.
ChickaBOOMer: Comcast and NBC Can't Follow Directions
StewartIII - 6/25/2010 11:16:41 AM EDT
This seems to be the new modus operandi of the FCC. Ask for a mountain of information, just short of your kids' medical records. Once they get it does ANYONE think those FCC nimrods will understand what they have?
Cranky Cowboy - 6/25/2010 11:00:34 AM EDT
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