Comcast-NBCU Deal Not Likely Until 2011

Comcast will have to wait until next year before closing its deal to acquire 51 percent of NBC Universal. According to a report in The New York Times, a memo to NBCU staffers from Jeff Zucker said that regulators are headed toward approving the deal in January.

Both the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice need to sign off on the transaction.

A number of sources have indicated that the FCC is working frantically to circulate a final order for the deal before Christmas to the commissioners. That still doesn’t give them enough time to settle on possible conditions. Among the conditions being considered are smaller pay-TV providers and program access-type rules for the Internet.

Comcast was hoping it would be able to close the deal by the end of 2010, but the cable giant is now looking to January.

“We believe the FCC and the DOJ continue to make substantial process toward approval of our transaction. However, because of the lead time required to prepare for a close, it now appears that we will not be able to close the transaction with GE relating to NBC Universal by year-end. We have notified our transition teams that there will not be a Dec. 31 closing. We believe the regulatory review puts us on track for a closing in January 2011. We are appreciative of the hard work by the FCC and DOJ staff and by our own transition teams, and look forward to completing the process early next year,” Comcast said in a statement.