Siding with a group of major programmers, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. has blocked the FCC from publicly disclosing information about deals between pay-TV operators and networks as part of its ongoing merger reviews.
The Federal Communications Commission planned to make information about these deals public on a limited basis as part of its ongoing reviews of Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and AT&T's (NYSE: T) $49 billion acquisition of DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV).
Content owners including Viacom, Fox, Time Warner Inc. and CBS argued that such disclosures would harm their bargaining positions in future negotiations. The court agreed, ruling Friday that the FCC could still conduct its reviews without a public disclosure of the data in question.
"The agency has access to the relevant documents at issue in this matter and can continue to evaluate the proposed merger during the stay," court documents explaining the ruling read.
"The stay order deals with a procedural matter that has never had anything to do with the substance of our transaction" and the FCC can continue its review, Sena Fitzmaurice, a spokeswoman for Philadelphia-based Comcast, said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg.
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