Conyers Praises Comcast/NBCU PUblic Interest Steps, Wants More

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House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) said Thursday he "applauded" the public-interest filing made today by Comcast and NBCU as they launched FCC review of the deal, though he suggested some of his own additional conditions.

"It is clear to me that any merger of this magnitude should be reviewed carefully," said Conyers in a statement. "Nonetheless, Comcast's commitment to diverse programming and maintaining the journalistic independence of NBCU is encouraging. I am also glad to see that Comcast has committed to maintaining local affiliates, local news coverage and other public interest programming.

But Conyers said he was looking for more, suggesting a commitment to independent programming, access to sports programming, and "ensuring consumers still have access to their favorite shows online for minimal or no cost."

Conyers said he would hold a hearing on the deal sometime in Februray. The Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee and House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee have already scheduled their hearings for Feb. 4.

Conyers was seconded by Henry (Hank) Johnson (D-Ga.) chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy. "I am pleased to hear about Comcast's upfront commitments to preserving competition and consumer access to programming," said Johnson in the joint statement. "I continue to reserve judgment on the proposed merger, but the FCC public filing is a step in the right direction to alleviate concerns about the potential anticompetitive effects of the transaction."

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