FCC to Hold Public Forum on Comcast-NBCU

Updated: 7-hour forum set for July 13 at Northwestern University Law School in Chicago
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Updated 1:32 PM ET, 6/3/2010

As expected, the FCC announced June 3 that it will hold a 7-hour
public forum (1-8 p.m.) on the proposed Comcast-NBC Universal merger on
July 13 at the Northwestern University Law School in Chicago.

There

will be two panels followed by a two-hour block for questions from the
public.

No official word on who will attend, but as B&C
reported Wednesday, Democratic Commissioners Michael Copps and Mignon
Clyburn are both planning to attend, according to FCC sources.

Media

advocacy group Free Press was pleased with the announcemnt but still
wants full-fledged hearings, which assume attendance by all five
commissioners.

"We are pleased that the Commission will be
hosting
a public workshop on the Comcast-NBC merger, and that Commissioners
Clyburn and Copps are expected to attend," said Free Press Policy
Counsel Corie Wright. "However, given the proposed merger's likely
impact on consumers and our media landscape, a hearing that includes all
five FCC commissioners is key."

Deal critics, including Free
Press, have been pushing the commission to hold a field hearing or
hearings on the deal. So had Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and
Commissioner  Copps.While it is being billed as a workshop/public
forum rather than a hearing (which all the commissioners would be
expected to attend), the public will get a chance to weigh in. Chicago
was the pick in part, said one FCC source, because Comcast has a major
presence and NBC has an O&O station. There may be other forums, said
that source.

The House

Judiciary Committee has scheduled a field hearing of its own on the
deal for June 7 in L.A
. Waters is expected to attend that hearing,
which is being presided over by Committee Chairman John Conyers
(D-Mich.), according to a committee source.

Free Press has
advocated for FCC field hearings in markets most affected by the merger
-- like Chicago -- and has pushed for commissioners' participation at
those hearings.

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