Is Comcast inserting its nose too soon into NBC Universal’s business?
Contending that the departure of Jeff Zucker and visits of Comcast’s Steve Burke to NBCU headquarters indicate exactly that, the Coalition for Competition in Media on Monday urged regulators and President Obama to aggressively react.
The coalition includes the Writers Guild of America West and East, Bloomberg, WealthTV and consumer groups, including Common Cause.
“Comcast’s actions are a complete affront to the regulatory process and the job asked of your administration to protect consumers and competition,” said a letter sent by the coalition to Obama, Justice Department anti-trust chief Christine Varney, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, and Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett.
The coalition has questioned the merger before; this time, though, it added concern that that Comcast was acting as if approval of the deal is assured and suggested that the company’s move could be an effort to stampede regulators into approval.
“The professionals at the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission are working hard in a difficult environment to assess the impact of the most significant media merger in history,” said the letters. “Despite Comcast’s effort to create an aura of inevitability, both agencies must have the time they need to conduct a deliberate, thorough review of this important merger.”
Sena Fitzmaurice, Comcast’s vice president of government communications rejected the suggestion. “The Comcast NBCU transaction has already been the most thoroughly reviewed merger in media history—with one of the longest FCC comment periods and the most Congressional hearings, six, of any similar transaction,” she said in a statement.
“For a lobbying coalition funded by our competitors to imply the review of this transaction has not been deliberate and thorough is insulting to the Congress, the FCC and the Department of Justice. We are proud of the over 1,000 local community organizations, elected officials, diversity organizations and others that have expressed their support for this transaction that is precompetitive and fully in the public interest.”