Comcast has confirmed what FCC sources have been suggesting for some time now: the Comcast/NBCU deal won't be closing by year's end, because it likely won't be voted on by all the commissioners before early January.
Commission aids have been rating the chances of getting a vote out by the end of the year as slim to none given that, at press time, they had still not seen a draft of the decision, expected to be approval with conditions.
Even if if were voted on before the end of the year, there are enough technical issues with closing the deal on Comcast's and NBCU's end that it could not be done.
\"We believe the FCC and the DOJ continue to make substantial process toward approval of our transaction," said Comcast VP, government communications, Sena Fitzmaurice. "However, because of the lead time required to prepare for a close, it now appears that we will not be able to close the transaction with GE relating to NBC Universal by year-end. We have notified our transition teams that there will not be a Dec. 31 closing.
"We believe the regulatory review puts us on track for a closing in January 2011. We are appreciative of the hard work by the FCC and DOJ staff and by our own transition teams, and look forward to completing the process early next year."
That draft could be circulated as early as Wednesday afternoon, but that would still give the other commissioners over three weeks to vote on it. Given the size and scope of the deal, as the days in December continued to dwindle with no paper circulated, the odds on a December date had dwindled with it.
In a memo circulated to NBCU staff Wednesday and obtained by B&C, outgoing CEO Jeff Zucker reiterated that the deal with Comcast won't be done by year-end as previously hoped.
"We have made substantial progress this month with both the FCC and the Department of Justice, and expect that we will get a ‘green light' in January," said Zucker in the memo. "The official close of the transaction would happen shortly after government approval."
If the chairman wants to get the 200-page draft of the order into the hands of those on other commissioner's staffs who need to review them, he will need to do so soon. Many are heading out for the holidays, and, along with commissioners, will have commitments at the Consumer Electronics Show at the beginning of January (6-9).