Comcast NBC FCC Approves

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011 - 9:45am

The Federal Communications Commission has cleared the way for Comcast to take controlling interest of NBC Universal.

NBC is one step closer to having a new owner.

The Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice have both given the green light for cable company Comcast to purchase a majority stake in NBC Universal, the parent company of NBC.

The FCC voted Tuesday four-to-one to approve the deal, which could have a ripple effect in the entertainment industry.

The peacock network may be the most visible element of Comcast's purchase of NBC Universal, but the deal, first announced in 2009, goes much deeper.

"This company will have if not the best, a fantastic suite of cable channels, each a multimedia brand, each growing," says Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts.

NBC Universal brings a dozen cable channels into the Comcast family, including entertainment networks USA, Bravo and SyFy, as well as news and information channels CNBC and MSNBC.

They join a Comcast cable collection that includes the sports channel Versus, as well as E! Entertainment.

Universal Studios and its extensive film library are also part of the deal, the total of which, is valued at about $30 billion.

The combined company expects to capitalize on Comcast's more than 23 million cable subscribers to expand content offerings and viewing options both in and out of the home.

The deal is not without critics.

Concerns about its impact on cable and internet pricing and content availability were among the issues raised during congressional hearings last year.

"The merger has so many anti-competitive and anti-consumer effects that it just can't be fixed.
They can't be unraveled," says Dr. Mark Cooper, Director of Research for the Consumer Federation of America.

The deal's approval takes a network that started on radio almost 80 years ago into the forefront of a rapidly evolving media frontier.

The merger is expected to become official by month's end.

It will give Comcast a controlling 51 percent stake in the new combined company, with NBC Universal's parent, General Electric, retaining a 49 percent stake.

The deal does come with a few stipulations from the FCC, one of them being that Comcast has to make NBC programming available to rival cable companies and other competitors such as satellite operators and online video services such as Netflix.

Another stipulation is that NBC has to give up his share of the managerial control of the online
video website Hulu.

 

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