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Cable Technology Feature Article

January 19, 2011

FCC Approves Comcast-NBC Merger

By Chris DiMarco, TMCnet Web Editor

After months of debate the Federal Communications Committee has approved a merger between cable provider Comcast and broadcast television company NBC. Though the action does not finalize the deal it was the last external hurdle the media giants needed to clear before moving ahead with negotiations expected to conclude by the end of the month. This will be the first time that a broadcast company has been owned by a cable provider.

In the official statement the FCC (News - Alert) said, “The Commission's decision is based on a thorough review of the record, which includes extensive data and voluntary commitments from the applicants, as well as thousands of comments from interested parties and public input received at a public forum held in Chicago. Based on this review, the Commission has determined that granting the application, with certain conditions and contingent upon enforceable commitments, is in the public interest. “

Approval has been pending for several days and has been a central talking point from Comcast lobbyists and opponents alike. Opponents feel that the deal will set in motion the monopolization of televised media and will allow Comcast (News - Alert) to restrict access to NBC shows and news.

Michael J. Copps was the only FCC commissioner to cast a nay vote, making the final tally four to one in support of the acquisition. Mr. Copps, that it “confers too much power in one company’s hands.” Copps continues, “The Comcast-NBCU joint venture opens the door to the cable-ization of the open Internet. The potential for walled gardens, toll booths, content prioritization, and access fees to reach end users, and a stake in the heart of independent content production is now very real.”

Regardless of the connotations, there is no argument that this is one of the largest mergers in communication history and that it will change the face of media consumption in short order.

Chris DiMarco is a Web Editor for TMCnet. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University. Prior to joining TMC (News - Alert) Chris worked with e-commerce provider Suresource as a contact center representative and development analyst. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Chris DiMarco