It is not billed as a Comcast/NBCU hearing, but keep an eye on the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee hearing this Wednesday (June 9).The witnesses are Christine Varney, assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division at Justice, and Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission Washington.
The hearing is on antitrust review in general–Justice and the FTC have come out with proposed new guidelines for their reviews. Per an agreement that dates back decades, the two divvy up antitrust merger reviews, including the ones that get parallel looks from the FCC–Justice drew the short or long straw, depending on how you look at it,on Comcast/NBCU.
The chairman of the committee is Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), who two weeks ago fired off a letter to the FCC saying he had concluded their needed to be major conditions on the deal, including divesting online video site, Hulu.com. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is a member of the committee as well. Franken was arguably the toughest Hill interrogator during Hill hearings on the proposed deal.
Varney, for one, wouldn’t be able to talk specifically about the merger since it is currently before Justice for vetting, but that didn’t stop the Senate Commerce Committee from having Varney and FCC chairman Julius Genachowski testify at a hearing generally about competition and specifically about Comcast/NBCU.