Comcast-NBC Universal deal coming down to the wire


There is no official timetable in play at the FCC for a vote on whether or not to approve the deal bringing Comcast together with NBC Universal, but it is making the rounds on the FCC’s 8th Floor, and a collective thumb up or down is expected any day now.

The deal has attracted critics both on Capitol Hill, from senators like Al Franken (D-MN) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and from representatives like Maxine Waters (D-CA). But it has also attracted support from many Democrats, including Mike Doyle (D-PA), a key member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Doyle signed a letter along with delegation colleague Charles W. Dent (R-PA) commending FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski for finally putting the deal in front of his colleagues for approval or rejection.

The letter attracted 97 signatures among House members, including key Commerce member Fred Upton (R-MI), Joe Barton (R-TX), Greg Walden (R-OR), Lee Terry (R-NE) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL). It also attracted numerous Democratic signatures.

In the letter, the reps wrote, “…we understand that the draft order concludes that, based on all the filings, the joint venture will promote competition, investment, localism, diversity and innovation, and is in the public interest. Accordingly, we encourage you and your fellow Commissioners to complete your agency’s review without further delay, and we hope this review would result in a bipartisan outcome.”

Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps is likely the most difficult vote for Comcast, and his office is likely the one trying to put the stiffest menu of conditions on the transaction if approved.

The vote can occur at any time. It is not on the schedule for the next FCC Open Meeting, which will be held 1/25/11.

RBR-TVBR observation: Reports are flying about a flurry of activity around the edges of the FCC review process, but the bottom line is that little has changed since the transaction was put on circulation for review before the clock on 2010 elapsed. And since a Democratic commissioner put it out with a recommendation to accept, and since two Republicans are likely to agree, we suspect it will be approved. The question still hinges what conditions will be attached to approval.