More than a year after announcing merger plans, Comcast and NBC Universal (NBCU) won FCC and Justice Department (DOJ) approval on Tuesday for their $28 billion union. The approval is subject to conditions that are intended to preserve competitive access to Comcast and NBCU programming and growth in the nascent online video services market. The FCC handed down its order by a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Michael Copps dissenting and both FCC Republicans—Commissioners Robert McDowell and Meredith Baker—concurring. FCC endorsement of the deal, which gives Comcast a 51% majority stake in NBCU, is the first instance in which a cable operator has been granted control of a major U.S. television network. In addition to gaining control of television stations owned by the NBC broadcast network, Comcast will also emerge as a content powerhouse with control of NBCU’s extensive stable of programming and other media assets. To ensure that rival multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) maintain access to the merged entity’s programming, the FCC is requiring the postmerger Comcast to offer such MVPDs access to affiliated Comcast content at “fair market value and nondiscriminatory prices, terms and conditions.” That requirement also extends to online video distributors, such as Netflix, which must be offered access to Comcast-affiliated video programming “on the same terms and conditions that would be available to an MVPD.” Among other things, Comcast must also refrain from exercising managerial control over the Hulu online video streaming service owned jointly by NBC and other broadcasters. It must also offer its customers standalone access to broadband Internet services “at reasonable prices and of sufficient bandwidth so that consumers may access online video services without the need to purchase a cable television subscription.” Many of the FCC’s conditions are also mirrored in the DOJ consent decree, which also mandates that rival program content be given “equal treatment under any of [Comcast’s] broadband offerings that include caps, tiers, metering for consumption, or any other usage-based pricing.” Describing the conditions as “strong and fair,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowsi declared that the conditions adopted by the agency “ensure that this transaction serves the public interest.” Voting in favor of the transaction, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn further observed that the merger order contains “robust and thoroughly vetted language that will safeguard journalistic independence . . . children’s programming and public access, [and] educational and/or governmental programming.” Charging, however, that the order “goes too far,” Commissioners McDowell and Baker complained in a joint concurring statement that many of the commitments agreed to by Comcast and the FCC “are not even arguably related to the underlying transaction.” Casting the lone dissenting vote, Commissioner Copps decried the merger as a “damaging and potentially dangerous” transaction that “confers too much power in one company’s hands.” As Comcast executive vice president David Cohen assured reporters that none of the merger conditions “will prevent us from executing on our business plans,” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts welcomed Tuesday’s vote as “a proud and exciting day for Comcast.”