Jeff Zucker may yet spend Christmas and perhaps longer as NBCU’s CEO.
For the second time, the Federal Communications Commission Monday asked both Comcast and NBC Universal for additional information on their proposed $30B merger — a sign that the agency’s review is a long way from finished.
In formal “second requests” for information, the FCC asked both companies for details of agreements with other cable operators, per subscriber revenues for each cable network, listings of top advertisers both and in at least one case correspondence.
The correspondence the FCC wanted to see was a letter Cox Communications sent to Bridget Baker, NBCU’s president of TV Networks Distribution, apparently about NBC’s plans to distribute its TV shows using ad supported vehicles on the Web like Hulu and other Web platforms.
There were hints in the requests that the FCC was looking closely at charges that smaller cable companies would be disadvantaged in negotiations for cable channels. The commission, for example, asked to see contracts showing how much several smaller cable companies were paying to get NBCU and Comcast channels.
The FCC also asked Comcast asked about its attempt to poach customers when a retransmission dispute in the Pacific Northwest led Fisher Communications to pull the signals of its TV stations off Dish Network.
The last time the FCC asked for more information, it stopped the clock — which now calls for a final review to be done by the day after Thanksgiving. Though there have already been signs the agency won’t make that timetable, this latest request for information is not expected to slow things down futher.
Sena Fitzmaurice, Comcast's vice president of government relations, suggested the action is routine. “These types of information requests are not uncommon. It doesn’t stop the review clock,” she told TheWrap. “We still expect regulatory approval by the end of the year.”