FCC names 'merger hawks' to review pending pay TV mega-deals

William Rogerson, a former FCC chief economist and noted critic of the 2010 merger of Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and NBCUniversal, will be part of the team that oversees the Federal Communications Commission as it makes crucial regulatory rulings on the pending Comcast/Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and AT&T (NYSE: T)/DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) mergers.

So what can we say about this group?

In a story headlined, "These are the merger hawks who will decide your cable future," the Washington Post noted, "From the looks of it, the companies will face a tough review."

FCC attorney Hillary Burchuck, formerly of the U.S. Justice Department's antitrust division, will oversee the FCC's review of the Comcast/TWC deal , as well as Comcast's joint-venture agreement with Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) to spin off 4 million subscribers into a new cable company called SpinCo.

Meanwhile, another former Justice Department antitrust lawyer, Jamillia Ferris, will join the FCC from the law firm of Hunton & Williams LLP, will lead the team overseeing the proposed AT&T/DirecTV merger.

The FCC's general counsel, Jonathan Sallett, will chair the steering committee for both deals.

Rogerson, who currently chairs the economics department at Northwestern University, wrote no less than three reports in 2010 challenging Comcast's analysis of its ultimately approved buyout of NBCU and asserting that the deal would  yield a "harm" amounting to "more than ten times as large as the benefit."

For more:
- read this Washington Post story
- read this Deadline Hollywood story
- read this Reuters story

Related links:
AT&T-DirecTV deal will be hot topic as moguls gather in Sun Valley
Comcast-TWC would control 29% of U.S. pay TV market, nearly 36% of broadband: report
Consumers opposed to Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, survey says

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