They like to do things at their own pace down Washington, D.C. way, so when Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) went ahead and unveiled its NBC Universal management team, the folks in the capital city got their noses out of joint to the point where Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota has asked the Justice Department to say whether the move violated antitrust laws.
"By announcing the future leadership of NBC universal well in advance of federal approval ... Comcast may purposefully or inadvertently trigger the exchange of competitively sensitive information between its companies beyond what is customarily permissible in premerger settings," Franken said.
Of course Comcast, which is probably just trying to prod the feds to finally approve the deal, disagrees, offering up the ever-busy Sena Fitzmaurice to describe the company's actions as "common, proper and expected in a transaction of this type."
More tellingly, Comcast may have breached etiquette by breaking an agreement it reportedly made with regulators in September that it would not make personnel announcements until after the deal is approved. From a time perspective, the FCC usually approves mergers with 180 days and that would mean the deadline runs out tomorrow. Of course, that's the normal run-of-the-mill merger, not the highly charged acquisition of a crown jewel broadcast network by the nation's largest MSO.
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