Comcast/NBCU scrutiny going on a road trip


The House Judiciary Committee has put a hearing on the proposed merger of Comcast and NBC Universal on its schedule, but it’ll be held in Los Angeles rather than in Washington DC. And the FCC is said to be working on a road trip or two of its own.

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-CA) will presumably be manning the gavel at the Donald P. Loker Conference Center in Los Angeles when the session convenes 6/7/10. It’ll begin at 9AM local time. Details on witnesses have not yet been released.

However, the forum will be held in the back yard of Maxine Waters (D-CA), who has expressed strong opposition to the merger, and who is a member of the Committee.

Meanwhile, National Journal’s Tech Daily Dose is saying that FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn have been successful in getting the Commission to head out into the field, as requested by Waters. There are expected to be one or two field hearings, most likely in locations where Comcast and NBCU have overlapping cable and broadcast interests.

RBR-TVBR observation: These hearings could actually spark some interest, with the right panelists. There’s the issue of retransmission consent, for example. NBC affiliates should not have any problems cutting a deal with Comcast as members of the same merged entity, but affiliates of other networks, not to mention indies, may have some legitimate concerns about how the process will work for them.

However, those kinds of issues could also be addressed in Washington. Indeed, most of them have been addressed by now.

We understand that one of the stated goals of forums such as these is to allow “the public” to weigh in. We confess that we do not know exactly what “the public” is – we just don’t believe that the people you might find at the shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon are the same people that will be in attendance at the Donald P. Loker Conference Center on the 7th.

But such a field debate could at least break the monotony of the review process, and getting a handful of officials out of town for a day may at the very least provide a small measure of relief for Washington DC commuters.