FCC Requests More Info From Comcast, NBCU

Not so fast. The Federal Communications Commission requested more information from Comcast and NBC Universal as it reviews Comcast’s unprecedented bid to control 51 percent of NBCU. Comcast and NBCU have until Oct. 18 to send in the paperwork.

It’s the second time the FCC requested more information.

In its request, the FCC is asking for details of the agreements between Comcast and several programmers including Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, Verizon and AT&T. The FCC also asked for details about carriage agreements over the last two years, subscriber rate changes, channel lineups and ownership in local markets, even the top 20 advertisers on each of the company’s programming networks and the associated annual revenue.

The transaction has brought out the usual flurry of opposition from public interest groups and industry organizations, as well as hearings on the Hill. Comcast/NBCU has responded by spending tens of millions of dollars to lobby the regulators.

All the noise on Capitol Hill aside, Comcast and NBCU must feel pretty confident.

Anticipating approval for the transaction, Comcast and NBCU have already begun to make executive management decisions (Jeff Zucker out; Steve Burke in), a move groups that have opposed the proposed combination considered presumptuous at best.

“Comcast’s actions are a complete affront to the regulatory process and the job asked of your administration to protect consumers and competition,” wrote The Coalition for Competition in Media in a letter sent Monday (Oct. 4) to president Barack Obama; Christine Varney, the assistant attorney general for antitrust at the Justice Department; chairman Julius Genachowski of the FCC; and Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the president. “Despite Comcast’s effort to create an aura of inevitability, both agencies must have the time they need to conduct a deliberate, thorough review of this important merger.”