Comcast-NBCU considerations back on track; hearings headed to Chicago

Having received additional information from Comcast and NBC Universal, the FCC has green-flagged the ongoing 180-day review of the $30 billion or so merger. That review was stopped at day 37 when the Commission sought more information from the two parties.

Meanwhile, the breeze should pick up in the Windy City (Chicago, if you didn't know) when both the House Communications Technology and Internet Subcommittee and the FCC holding field hearings there in the next week. Today, the House was expected to hear from the likes of EarthLink, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Comcast's Joe Waz--a trio guaranteed stir the summer air.

Some testimony has already been offered--at least to the media: EarthLink believes a Comcast-NBCU merger "will result in less competition, diminished choice, decreased information diversity, reduced broadband network investment and higher costs for consumers," according to general counsel Samuel DeSimone Jr. Waz, of course, takes an opposite view, noting that fierce competition among providers would limit the harm a bigger Comcast could wreak because it would have "no ability to restrict competition or otherwise harm public interest."

Finally, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, also expected to be on hand, favors the deal for competitive reasons because, it said, "the greatest hazard" of blocking a merger like Comcast-NBCU "is that it makes competitive responses to it unnecessary."

If you're filling out your calendar, the FCC folks will be in the Second City (Chicago) next week for their own hearings with a guest list that includes Josh Silver, president-CEO of Free Press and Brian Lawlor, president-chairman of NBC Television Affiliates.

For more:
- see this story
- and this news release
- and this story
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