House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) said he was pleased with the list of self-imposed conditions that Comcast and NBC Universal are committing to if their proposed merger is allowed to go through. However, he said any merger of this size warrants careful review, plus he wants more conditions.
Conyers and Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy, both commented on the FCC filing by the merging entities.
“It is clear to me that any merger of this magnitude should be reviewed carefully,” said Conyers. “Nonetheless, Comcast’s commitment to diverse programming and maintaining the journalistic independence of NBCU is encouraging. I am also glad to see that Comcast has committed to maintaining local affiliates, local news coverage and other public interest programming. However, as the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division considers the competitive impact of this proposed merger, I will be looking for additional guarantees to protect competition and consumers. Such additions might include commitments to independent programming in addition to its already stated commitment to diverse programming, maintaining access to sports programming, and ensuring that consumers still have access to their favorite shows online for minimal or no cost. We will continue our review of today’s FCC filing and our conversations with all interested stakeholders and are committed to conducting a public hearing in February on the potential impact of the merger in light of the filing and the commitments.”
Johnson added, “I am pleased to hear about Comcast’s upfront commitments to preserving competition and consumer access to programming. I continue to reserve judgment on the proposed merger, but the FCC public filing is a step in the right direction to alleviate concerns about the potential anticompetitive effects of the transaction.”
RBR-TVBR observation: There is nothing there yet, but we will be extremely surprised if Conyer’s committee or one of its subcommittees passes up the chance to hold a hearing on this merger.