Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) asked NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith what he thought about the proposed merger of Comcast and NBCU. Smith said the NAB is taking no position and will await regulatory review.
Buyer said he had concerns about how this merger could affect smaller group owners with NBC affiliates in their portfolio; and he indicated that he had concerns about the vertical integration the deal would cause.
Smith responded, “Some of my friends are for it, some are very concerned about it and I’m with my friends.” He said the topic is keeping the NAB’s phone lines busy, and that the association is remaining neutral.
Buyer further noted that there seemed to be silence in the marketplace. He said that if other media companies were for the merger, they’d say so, but feel impeded from coming out against it, and said that he reads the silence as a form of marketplace disapproval. Smith merely restated that many are interested in it and are watching the process go forward.
Buyer then got Communications Subcommittee Chair Rick Boucher (D-VA) to confirm that the panel will hold a hearing on the transaction. Boucher said there would be “at least” one such hearing.
RBR-TVBR observation: This further underscores the non-partisan character of many communications issues. This was not Henry Waxman (D-CA) questioning a large corporate consolidation proposal – it was a Republican. If a significant number of Republicans want a hearing so they have a chance to probe into this deal, it is a sign that the merger is in for a tussle.