Copps sets tone for Comcast roast at FCC Chicago hearing

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps--the only one of five commissioners to appear at a Chicago field hearing on the Comcast-NBC Universal merger bid--set the tone for yet another series of attacks on the idea by stating that it would be a "steep climb" for the companies to get his approval of the deal and that he would not "accept half-hearted assurances" that the measure would benefit the public.

Copps' comments were only the start of a pile-on by merger opponents, including Dish Network, which questioned how the deal would affect the nascent online video market. Susan Crawford, a professor at New York's Cardozo Law School, said by bundling its cable TV fare as TV Everywhere, Comcast "could make it uneconomical for online video distributors to emerge."

Copps, in his opening remarks, also took aim at how Comcast-NBC would treat the Internet, warning that the medium should not become "the province of gatekeepers and toll-gate collectors."

Elsewhere, there was better news for the betrothed companies. The European Union (EU) cleared the deal, noting in an announcement that it "would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic area." The FCC, meanwhile, has restarted the clock for its final review of the deal and has 45 days remaining until it reaches a conclusion.

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