WASHINGTON D.C. (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The U.S. Justice Department has announced that it intends to lead the government's antitrust review of Comcast's proposed acquisition of NBC Universal. DoJ will be joining the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Congress in reviewing the deal. Congressional hearings are expected to commence next month.
The proposed deal was originally announced in December and would see the cable provider acquire a controlling interest in NBC Universal from General Electric in a deal worth as much as $30 billion. The agreement would be a first, marrying the nation's largest cable provider with a major producer of content, including NBC, one of only four major broadcast networks, as well as a number of major cable channels, including A&E, MSNBC, CNBC and the Spanish-language Telemundo among others.
The deal however, has already raised the hackles of some public interest groups who have expressed concern that it would give Comcast too much influence in the media sphere, an argument that appears to resonate in light of the ongoing debate regarding 'net neutrality'.
Proponents of net neutrality argue that all content should have equal access to bandwidth on the Internet while opponents argue that ISPs should be allowed to allocate available bandwidth to benefit specific content providers. This would be particularly relevant to Comcast, currently the largest Internet service provider in the United States, if the NBC deal is completed and just last month, the company launched Fancast Xfinity TV, which allows users to watch television programming on their computers.
The road to completion on the acquisition is likely to be a long one for Comcast and they do not expect to close the deal until the fourth quarter, 2010, the Wall Street Journal reported. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers