Exclusive: Comcast-NBCU Merger Expected to Close Jan. 28

The Comcast-NBCU merger is poised to get FCC approval this week, with a final close of the deal planned for January 28, TheWrap has learned.

EXCLUSIVE

The Comcast-NBCU merger is poised to go to the FCC for final approval this week, with a final close of the deal to create a new cable and programming giant planned for Jan. 28, TheWrap has learned.

Two individuals close to the situation said that a vote was expected first at the Federal Communications Commission, followed quickly by approval from the Justice Department.

That would clear the way for NBC-Universal to close out its payroll by the last Friday of this month and for the new merged company to take the reigns, which is what the company is anticipating will be the case.

Both the FCC and the Department of Justice have to approve the merger. The FCC approves the public interest portion while DOJ approves the anti-trust component of the merger.

The FCC is scheduled to have a meeting on Jan. 25, but the vote can happen independently of a formal meeting.

As of last Friday none of the FCC commissioners had voted on the merger, but a vote still is expected early this week, according to two individuals with knowledge of the process.

Some of the commissioners are trying to get conditions added to the merger, most obviously with Commissioner Michael Copps, a Democrat. He wants greater assurances of diversity in programming, and a strong commitment to net neutrality.

Comcast has already agreed to an additional 1,000 hours per year of additional news programming for its NBC and Telemundo stations.

Comcast has to agree to abide by FCC’s net neutrality rules for seven years, regardless if there are any reversals in court.

The agreement will give Comcast a controlling 51% stake in the combined company, with General Electric retaining 49 %. The deal was announced in December 2009, after TheWrap first broke the news of the talks to merge.