Comcast/NBCU File Deal With Justice


Comcast/NBCU made their formal filing to the the Justice Department Monday for review of their proposed merger, according to the company.

That will be followed shortly by its public-interest filing and request for license transfer from the FCC.

Per the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, mergers above a certain threshhold must be submitted to review by either Justice or the FTC. The two divide up such reviews, with Justice getting the call in this case.

The FCC review goes beyond competition issues to public interest concerns.

The $30 billion deal involves NBCU borrowing $9.1 billion, which parent General Electric puts into a newly formed company along with NBCU's assets -- cable networks, broadcasting, film studio, theme parks. Comcast is slated to contribute $7.25 billion of its assets -- cable networks, regionals sports networks and some digital assets -- into the new company, then would pay GE $30 billion for a 51% interest. Comcast then has the option to buy half of GE's interest after five years, and the remainder after another three.

The reviews by Justice and the FCC are expected to take most of the year. Hill hearings on the deal in both the House and Senate are scheduled for next week.

National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith said last week he expected lots of conditions to be put on the deal, relaying concerns by some affiliates that the new combined company could try to "program around" affiliates

For its part, Comcast has pledged its allegiance to the broadcast network and station business.