Originally published: November 2, 2009
Last updated: November 2, 2009 - 10:19pm
[Commentary] Does the Federal Communications Commission have jurisdiction over Comcast's purchase of NBC Universal? At this time, it is unclear whether all the assets held by NBC Universal would be included in the deal. NBC Universal owns lots of radio and television stations. Transfer of the licenses to the new Comcast-controlled entity would require FCC approval. But if the deal does not include the licenses, the FCC would probably lack a jurisdictional hook. Review of the deal would lie strictly in antitrust — at either the Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission. From an antitrust perspective, the deal raises some concerns given the concentration of content and Comcast's position vis-a-vis other existing subscription television providers (e.g., FIOS, DIRECTV) and potential new competitors (e.g., Netflix and other "over the top" video providers)). It may also concern broadcasters -- both a) NBC affiliates worried about the change in management and b) other broadcasters worried how this would impact Comcast's retransmission negotiations. Much of this will also depend on whether the deal includes movie production studios, prior existing content, and a host of other details that impact the universe of content distribution these days.
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