Comcast returns to the Capitol 'grill'

For the fourth and presumably final time, Comcast execs explained why they should be allowed to buy NBC Universal and federal officials and assorted interested parties told them either why they shouldn't or what conditions they'll need to meet to do so during a congressional hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee in Washington, D.C.

Committee Chair Sen. John Rockefeller set the hearing's tone by placing a high value on broadcast stations as "services that are vital to our democracy. They shape the way we communicate. The shape the way we share news and information. When consolidation occurs in these markets we need to pay attention."

American Cable Association board member Colleen Abdoullah took a more pragmatic view while playing to the grassroots constituencies the senators represent. If the deal goes through as planned, she said, small system ACA members would "pay substantially more for the same programming we distribute today... and we will have little choice but to pass this on to consumers."

As always, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts tried to allay fears: "You don't buy the number four network and want to do harm," he said. He'll get to continue to make his case to the FCC and the Justice Department who also need to nod affirmatively for the deal to close.

For more:
- see this story in Business Week
- and this story
- and this release

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