News

Wanted: More Comment Time

4/19/2010 12:01 AM Eastern

Washington — Rep. Maxine
Waters (D-Calif.) is serious
about wanting more time for
comments on Comcast’s deal to
control NBC Universal.

Waters introduced a bill, HR
5020, that would extend the comment
period at the Federal Communications
Commission by 45
days.

She had sent a letter to the FCC
asking it to extend the deadline,
but apparently is hedging her
bets.

The commission has rejected a
petition by Media Access Project
for the 45-day extension, as well
as a request by a pan-Asian group
to delay vetting the deal while it
looks into its effect on Asian-
Americans.

Waters said her bill had the
backing of MAP, as well as “Consumers
Union, Free Press, Communications
Workers of America,
Parents Television Council, Public
Knowledge, National Association
of Hispanic Journalists and
the Greenlining Institute.”

It also has 50 legislative cosponsors,
including most of the
Congressional Black Caucus, she
said.

At press time, that number had
been boosted to 56 co-sponsors,
according to Free Press, one of the
groups pressing for more time.

MAP on Friday asked the FCC
to reconsider denying the extension,
saying the court decision in
the Comcast/BitTorrent case is one
more reason to give interested parties
more time to weigh in.

MAP, with letters of support
from Free Press, Consumer Federation
of America, the American
Cable Association, Consumer’s
Union and other critics of the $30
billion joint venture, had sought
the extension before the BitTorrent
decision, citing a number
of comment deadlines coming
due in the same time frame, and
the importance of addressing all
relevant issues in the comments
given the FCC’s express advice
to do so. But the commission denied
the request.

The FCC pointed out that it had
already established a 90-day window
for comments and pleadings
“two or three times” the period
for previous mergers.

September