Congresswoman Seeks Comcast-NBCU Comment Extension

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Washington -- Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has asked the Federal
Communications Commission to extend the comment period on its review of Comcast's
deal for control of NBC Universal.

That came in a letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski
Monday. Waters said the FCC must allow "the public more time to present
information, make arguments and raise questions about the takeover by Comcast
-- the nation's biggest cable and broadband Internet company -- of NBC
Universal, which owns broadcast and cable networks, TV stations and programs,
and movie studios."

Rep. Maxine Waters

She said she wants to make sure public-interest groups "have
a chance to be heard." The FCC had denied Media Access Project's request for an
extension of the final comment deadline on the deal to Aug. 1 (From June 17). MAP
cited an "unusually large" number of comment deadlines coming due in the next
couple of months and pointed out that the FCC had not put the deal out for
comment until March 18, after the parties made a supplemental filing. MAP
also noted the FCC's requirement that all arguments be made in initial
comments.

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.

"The commission has an obligation to review the proposed
transaction as expeditiously as possible," the FCC wrote in denying the
request. "It is often the case that potential petitioners or commenters such as
MAP have interests in multiple Commission
proceedings,

and the Commission's schedule cannot be dictated by the
choices made by those parties regarding the allocation of their time and
resources."

Waters asked the FCC to reconsider the decision not to grant
the 45-day extension.

"An extension of time is especially important in these
proceedings given the Commission's request that petitioners raise all issues in
their initial filings," she wrote. "Given the extensive resources needed to
participate in [a] proceeding and the complex and significant nature of this
transaction, a 45-day extension is necessary and in the public interest."

Waters is a longtime critic of media consolidation and what
she sees as its adverse impact on diversity of voices.

The deal's impact on small businesses -- including minority-owned
enterprises -- will get a hearing later this month in the Senate Small Business
Committee
.

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