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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

FCC & Justice Approve Comcast Merger With NBC Universal

The Justice Department, along with the Federal Communications Commissionon, approved Comcast's $30 billion acquisition of NBC Universal on Tuesday.  The deal merges the nation's biggest cable and Internet service provider with NBC Universal's library of entertainment.

Most of the conditions for the merger apply for seven years. In addition, Comcast made several voluntary commitments to the FCC to ensure that the deal would be in the public interest. It will offer more children's programming and local news. It will also offer low-income households Internet service for $9.99 a month and stand-alone broadband Internet subscriptions for $49.99.

Comcast promised that it would not retaliate against broadcast networks or cable programmers for licensing their shows to competing firms such as Time Warner Cable or DirecTV. Comcast volunteered to treat all Internet content fairly - with similar speeds - even if the FCC's net neutrality rules are overturned by a court.

The FCC and Justice also demanded that Comcast relinquish its management stake in Hulu, the online joint venture NBC has with News Corp. and Walt Disney. But Comcast would be able to keep its financial stake in the Web site.

The FCC approved the deal on a vote of 4-to-1 (Michael J. Copps opposing).  (Wash Post, 1/18/2010)

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