FCC to Restart Merger Clocks

Informal Clocks Stilled While Program Contract Challenges Were Resolved
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The FCC has signaled it will be re-starting the informal shot clocks on two major merger reviews, but not until new comment cycles are established.

The FCC stopped the informal 180-day shot clocks on vetting the Comcast/Time Warner Cable and AT&T/DirecTV mergers last month while it resolved issues surrounding third-party access to competitively sensitive programming contracts.

It resolved those Tuesday (Nov. 4), denying challenges by content companies to hundreds of requests by individuals seeking access, and upholding its modifications to its protective orders for that information meant to allay those programmer concerns (it hadn't).

But as of Wednesday, Nov. 5, the clocks on the reviews were still showing red, with the Comcast/TWC merger stopped on Oct. 3 (day 85) and AT&T/DirecTV merger stopped Oct. 22 (Day 76). Actually, Comcast's earlier stop date was because the clock was essentially stopped twice, the first time so the FCC could collect more info from Comcast and Time Warner Cable, and the second stoppage of the as-yet-restarted clock on Oct. 22.

An FCC spokesperson said that as soon as the transaction team had set a new pleading cycle for comments on both deals, the clocks would start again, though he had no date.