Comcast Deal to Face Vertical Integration Concerns

By Andrew Gauthier 

The Wall Street Journal

Comcast Corp.’s deal to acquire controlling interest in NBC Universal from General Electric Co. represents the first significant merger review for the Obama administration, and regulators are expected to undertake an exhaustive review.

Although federal regulators aren’t expected to block the deal, Comcast, the largest U.S. cable operator with 23.8 million cable subscribers, could face a variety of conditions to address program access, program carriage and Internet video concerns which the deal raises.


Technically, there are no Federal Communications Commission rules that would prohibit the deal.

A federal appeals court tossed a rule banning companies from owning TV stations and a cable system in the same market in 2002. The FCC will review the deal anyway since GE must ask for approval to transfer controlling interest in the licenses of NBC’s 27 local TV stations to Comcast.

Regulators are likely to focus on vertical integration concerns since it would marry a major content company with the country’s largest cable operator.More…