Court: FCC may not releases deal documents


CourthouseThe District of Columbia Circuit Court has barred the FCC from releasing sensitive business documents of major television groups as part of its review of the proposed Comcast/TWC and AT&T/DirecTV mergers.

The NAB and television interests were stunned that the FCC proposed to make confidentially negotiated and strategically sensitive information available in a proceeding in which broadcast television has only a peripheral interest.

According to The Hill, the stay on releasing the material is temporary. The Court said the FCC has what it needs to evaluate the mergers whether or not the documents are made public.

The Hill said the two Republican commissioners, Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly, were pleased with the Court’s ruling. In a joint statement, they said, “We are pleased that the D.C. Circuit has stayed the Commission’s sharply-divided decision to disclose programming agreements to outside parties in the merger proceedings.  As the Court noted, the Commission can continue reviewing the relevant documents. As such, there is no reason why this ruling should delay the Commission’s review of these transactions.  In the meantime, we hope that the Commission and programmers will come to the negotiating table and reach a compromise.”

The FCC declined to comment on whether or not it intended to pursue the matter.