Incoming House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton
(R-Mich.) counseled the Federal Communications Commission not to unnecessarily delay a decision on the
Comcast/NBCU joint venture, saying it could create more uncertainty for
businesses "looking to invest, innovate and create jobs."
In a letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, Upton wrote that at a time when "parties come out of the woodwork seeking leverage," that the chairman does not let "opportunistic competitors" or special-interest groups undermine the process. He advised the chairman to focus on transaction-related issues.
Genachowski said early in the process that the FCC's intention was not to regulate by condition, but to focus on transaction-specific issues.
But Upton warned that he would be "troubled" if the commission used the process to further partisan objectives that it does not have the support to impose industrywide.
"I urge you to rule on this transaction before the end of this calendar year," he said.
He also brandished the oversight stick in case the result fails to meet the standard of fact-based and data-driven the chairman has pledged. "
"As you come before this committee in the months ahead," said Upton, "I will look forward to learning what your handling of this transaction says about your commitment to efficient, pro-growth government policies."
According to a source close to one of the commissioners, no draft of the Comcast/NBCU deal had been circulated at press time. The deal could still get done by the end of the year, but it is looking increasingly unlikely. Another scenario would be for the chairman to circulate a draft of the decision before the end of the year, with the expectation that a vote might not come before January given the size and complexity of the deal and the network neutrality vote Dec. 21 that is taking "99% of our time," said the commission source.