Comcast-TWC, AT&T-DirecTV merger reviews halted by FCC

The FCC once again will pause the 180-day "shot clock" on its regulatory reviews for the prospective mergers of Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), and AT&T (NYSE: T) and DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV).

The agency once again cited pending court decisions on how to handle disclosures of information related to deals made by the MVPDs with programming companies as the reason behind the move.

"At this time, we believe it is prudent to pause the informal 180-day transaction clocks because the commission would be advantaged by knowing the resolution of the pending Petition for Review before the transaction clocks reach the 180-day mark, which both are slated to do by the end of March," the FCC said in in its announcement.

Comcast responded with the following statement: "We understand the FCC's decision to pause the informal review clock while the court continues to review a procedural matter related to the transaction. That case is under expedited review, oral argument occurred in late February, and a decision is expected shortly."

"In the meantime, the FCC appears to be making significant progress in the review of our transaction in order to bring it to a conclusion," the Comcast statement added. "The comment cycle is complete, the economists have all weighed in, and the parties have responded to all of the FCC's Requests for Information. We look forward to working with the government to complete the regulatory review process."

And AT&T had this statement: "We anticipate the issues surrounding the litigation between the FCC and the programmers to be resolved quickly so the FCC can complete its review of our transaction. We continue to look forward to closing our deal in the first half of the year."

Both merger reviews had been expected to be finished this month.

For more:
- read this Reuters story
- read this Los Angeles Times story

Related links:
Comcast says opposition-coalition white paper full of inaccuracies
Comcast-TWC merger 'no longer inevitable,' declares L.A. Times
As Comcast-TWC merger shot clock restarts, opposition forces further coalesce