On January 25, 2010, Comcast Corp. (“Comcast”) and NBC Universal (“NBCU”) made their initial filing under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act for Justice Department approval of Comcast’s proposed purchase of a 51% stake in NBCU, which would be acquired from General Electric Co. for $13.75 billion. An application for FCC approval of the transaction was made on Thursday, January 28, 2010.
The Comcast-NBCU deal has caused considerable concern about the new entity’s control over cable distribution, broadcast networks, cable channels, and motion picture studios. In order to respond to those concerns, Comcast has made a number of public commitments, including promises to increase public interest programming, extend program access rights to the NBC and Telemundo stations it will obtain as a result of the deal, and not migrate NBC and Telemundo broadcast programming to the cable platform. Critics of the deal, however, are expected to advocate much stronger concessions, and Comcast has already signaled that it will not accept merger conditions that address issues unrelated to the transaction.
The Justice Department has indicated that it, rather than the Federal Trade Commission, will take the lead in scrutinizing the antitrust implications of the merger. It also is reported that documents submitted to the Justice Department in support of the transaction will be shared with the FCC.