House panel gets into the Comcast/NBCU act


The Senate’s Antitrust Subcommittee may have been the first to ink the proposed Comcast/NBC Universal merger on to its schedule, but the House Communications Subcommittee followed suit, as promised, and will get first crack at the merger by a slim margin. The session is scheduled to kick off at 9:30 AM on 2/4/10.

That’s the same day and five hours before the Senate panel under Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) will hold a session on the merger – their meeting doesn’t start until 2:30 PM.

The Subcommittee, part of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, is chaired by Rick Boucher (D-VA), with Cliff Stearns (R-FL) at the head of the loyal opposition as Ranking Member.

The merger came up peripherally during an earlier Communications Subcommittee hearing on spectrum, with members of both parties expressing skepticism about this particular wedding proposal.

RBR-TVBR observation: With raised eyebrows known to exist on both sides of the aisle, there could be some interesting fireworks displays during these hearings.

On a practical note, there figures to be some overlap among the witnesses for these two sessions – and witnesses doing double duty may be wise to pack a bag lunch. We’d also recommend avoiding an excessive amount of pre-hearing coffee – the last thing a witness wants to project is squirminess — whether it be induced by caffeine or the ever-increasing need to make a pit stop.