FCC Pauses Shot Clock On Comcast/TWC

More Time for Dish, Others to Vet Comcast's Response
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The FCC has extended the comment deadline for input on the proposed Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger to at least Oct. 29 and stopped the informal shot clock on the deal, saying that Comcast's 850-page reply to its critics includes new information that will take longer to peruse. The commission added that Comcast's Sept. 11 reply to a follow-up data request was not complete and the materials remain outstanding.

“It is routine for the FCC to pause the review of significant transactions as it works to create a full record (this happened in our prior transactions as well)," Comcast said in a statement. "We will work with the staff to determine the additional information the FCC is seeking (including the document production that the FCC had asked us to delay filing) and will submit supplemental answers and documents quickly thereafter so that the FCC can complete its review early in 2015.”

Dish had sought an extension and Comcast and TWC had opposed it.

The FCC's Media Bureau Friday pointed to an analysis of discrimination against non-affiliated programming in Comcast's voluminous filing that refuted an FCC analysis in the Comcast/NBCU merger review and represented a "substantial body of new material." And in what seemed a gentle rebuke, suggested the materials "perhaps could have been presented in the initial application."

"[I]n order to permit commenters to submit well considered Replies to Responses and Oppositions," said the Bureau, " we grant the DISH Motion, and extend the deadline for filing until October 29, 2014. The Commission will make any necessary determination as to whether the Commission’s self-imposed 180-day shot clock for reviewing transactions should be stopped separately from this notice."

In a letter to Comcast, TWC and Charter, which is getting some spun-off stations in the deal, Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake said because of "incomplete answers" from Comcast and TWC, "we are stopping the informal 180-day transaction clock in this proceeding until October 29, 2014, the deadline for commenters to file their Responses, or until Commission staff has determined that your responses to the Commission’s information requests are complete, whichever is later."

That clock is currently on day 85 of that review.