The Federal Communications Commission plans to host a public forum on the proposed Comcast/NBCU joint venture next month, according to an agency source familiar with the plans.
Look for the date to be July 13 and the city to be Chicago. An announcement could come as soon as Thursday, when the FCC is officially scheduled to re-start the informal 180-day shot clock on its review of the merger.
Deal critics, including Free Press, have been pushing the commission to hold a field hearing or hearings on the deal. So had Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and FCC Commissioner Michael Copps.
While it is being billed as a workshop/public forum rather than a hearing (which all the commissioners would be expected to attend), sources say at least two of the commissioners--Copps and Mignon Clyburn--are expected to be there, and that the public will get a chance to weigh in.
Chicago was the pick in part, said one FCC source, because Comcast has a major presence and NBC has an O&O station. There may be other forums, according to the source.
The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a field hearing of its own on the deal for June 7 in L.A. Waters is expected to be in attendance at that hearing, which is being presided over by Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), according to a committee source.
Free Press has advocated for FCC field hearings in markets most affected by the merger -- like Chicago-- and has pushed for commissioners' participation at those hearings.