The FCC granted approval for the NBC-Comcast transaction
yesterday. The deal was announced last Spring and has been pending
approval since then. You'll remember that
because the NBC-Comcast deal involves broadcast and cable properties,
it required the approval of the FCC in addition to the normal antitrust review. The
standard for the FCC in passing on deals is whether the transaction is in the
public interest. That's a fairly broad and vaguely worded mandate. So,
one shouldn't be surprised that there are differences of opinion on the panel
as to what that interest actually is. In the end, the FCC approved the
deal with a number of conditions, including selling off control of Hulu
so that it can freely compete with Comcast's Xfinity service. The FCC
press release approving the transaction is here.
Of course, it wasn't all roses for the deal. There
were dissents on the FCC panel. Here's Commissioner Copp's dissent and his summary of the effects
of the transaction:
In sum, this is simply too much, too big, too powerful,
too lacking in benefits for American consumers and citizens. I have
respect for the business acumen of the applicants, and have no doubts that
they will strive to make Comcast-NBCU a financial success. But
simply blessing business deals is not the FCC's statutorily-mandated job.
Our job is to determine whether the record here demonstrates that this
new media giant will serve the public interest. While I welcome the
improvements made to the original terms, at the end of the day this
transaction is a huge boost for media industry (and digital industry)
consolidation. It puts new media on a road traditional media should never
have taken. It further erodes diversity, localism and
competition-the three essential pillars of the public interest standard
mandated by law. I would be true to neither the statute nor
to everything I have fought for here at the Commission over the past
decade if I did not dissent from what I consider to be a damaging and
potentially dangerous deal.
Time will tell.
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