Waters wants more time for Comcast/NBCU commentary


The FCC just turned down a watchdog request for public hearings on the pending merger between Comcast and NBCU. Now US Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) is asking for a 45-day extension of the comment deadline.
Waters says an earlier request for a 45-day extension was turned down, leaving the deadline at 5/3/10.

Waters said, “The FCC must allow the public more time to present information, make arguments and raise questions about the takeover by Comcast — the nation’s biggest cable and broadband Internet company — of NBC Universal, which owns broadcast and cable networks, TV stations and programs, and movie studios. A merger of this magnitude would have an enormous impact on virtually every American, and I want to make sure individuals and public interest groups have a chance to be heard.”

In a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, she wrote, “Last month, public interest groups filed a request with the FCC for a 45-day extension to file petitions to deny, oppose, and comment on the applications of Comcast Corporation, General Electric Company, and NBC Universal, to assign and transfer control of certain licenses. An extension of time is especially important in these proceedings given the Commission’s request that petitioners raise all issues in their initial filings. Moreover, the Commission has established filing deadlines in a large number of important proceedings over the next few months. I firmly believe that given the extensive resources needed to participate in each upcoming proceeding and the complex and significant nature of this transaction, a 45-day extension is necessary and in the public interest.

Waters concluded, “While the FCC has delegated its Media Bureau the authority to make certain procedural determinations with respect to the Comcast-NBC merger proceedings, I strongly believe that it is in the public interest for the FCC to provide adequate time for all impacted parties to file detailed comments that will greatly assist the Commission in evaluating the impact of Comcast’s acquisition of NBC Universal. Therefore, I ask that the FCC Commissioners reconsider the Media Bureau’s denial and extend the deadline for submission of comments an additional 45 days from the May 3rd deadline.”

RBR-TVBR observation: The FCC has making more of a point of stating that it does not routinely grant comment deadline extensions as a matter of routine. In fact, on complex topics, extensions DID seem to be routinely granted. It this request is granted, it would move the comment deadline back to the middle of June. We sincerely doubt that either the FCC or DOJ will be anywhere near done with their own internal reviews, so we suspect that granting an extension would not create any noticeable delay in processing this transaction.