Washington

Comcast-NBCU: FCC Stops Clock on Merger Review

Decision driven by FCC's request for additional economic reports from Comcast and NBC Universal 4/17/2010 10:32:53 AM Eastern

The FCC has stopped the clock on the Comcast-NBC Universal merger and delayed the comment and reply comment deadlines until it receives more information from the parties.
A number of groups, led by Media Access Project, had asked the commission to extend the comment deadline by 45 days to give them more time to weigh in.
But the FCC's decision was not in response to a petition; rather, it was driven by its decision to ask Comcast and NBCU for two additional economic reports, one on the claimed economic benefits from the proposed $30 billion joint venture and the other on its impact on online video distribution.
The FCC said that Comcast and NBCU have agreed to comply but said it would take until close to the May 3 deadline for comments and petitions to deny, so the FCC said it has suspended those deadlines and stopped its 180-day shot clock on the merger review.
That would appear to moot the petition for extention and a bill introduced in Congress to mandate the extension.
The FCC says those initial comments and petitions will be due 45 days after it has given public notice that it has received the reports.  
"We look forward to working with the Commission to submit the additional information they've requested," said Comcast in a statement. "We know they want to conduct a thorough and expeditious review of this transaction and we'll be submitting these reports as soon as possible.  We understand and agree in this case with the Commission's desire to have a full comment period on key documents submitted by the applicants."
 he FCC had denied an earlier request by Media Access Project to extend the comment deadline, but MAP Friday petitioned the commission to reconside that decision in light of the BitTorrent case, saying it was a changed circumstance that needed to be taken into account. Now the FCC has changed the circumstance itself with the request for more info, effectively doing the same thing as granting the petition wihout having to reverse itself.

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