FCC stops clock on NBCU-Comcast merger; adds more time for comment

Opponents of the NBC Universal-Comcast merger have earned a reprieve, at least temporarily, after the FCC decided to extend the period for public comment while it awaits additional economic data it requested from the companies. The commission said it will give the public an additional 45 days to comment after it receives two reports, one detailing the benefits the companies claim are implicit to the joint venture, the other one detailing the impact the merger will have on the delivery of online video. NBCU and Comcast have agreed to supply the reports, but had said they wouldn't be able to deliver them until close to the original May 3 public comment deadline. Because of the delay, the FCC decided to stop its 180-day clock--it had hoped to make a decision within six months--and says it will restart it once the reports are submitted.

Several groups have been aggressively petitioning the FCC to delay action on the merger to allow more time for study and public comment. Congress even got involved, introducing a bill that would have forced an extension.

"We look forward to working with the Commission to submit the additional information they've requested," said Comcast in a statement. "We know they want to conduct a thorough and expeditious review of this transaction and we'll be submitting these reports as soon as possible. We understand and agree in this case with the Commission's desire to have a full comment period on key documents submitted by the applicants."

For more:
- see this Broadcast & Cable report

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