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FCC Opens Comment Period on NBCU-Comcast

The expected move will push FCC action on the deal until fall

The Federal Communications Commission moved Thursday to formally open a public comment period on the Comcast-NBC Universal deal, which has the effect of pushing any FCC action on the proposed $30 billion merger until fall or later.

Comcast and NBC Universal hope to close the deal sometime late this year. While the Justice Department is conducting its anti-trust review, the FCC is separately reviewing whether  required station license transfers are “in the public interest.”

The FCC’s formal request for comment had been expected. Still, it suggests a clearer timetable for the FCC’s review.

Under the notice, initial comments or petitions to deny the deal have to be filed by May 3. Then, everybody gets until June 2 to respond to the initial comments. Finally responses to the responses have to be in by June 17.

Only at that point does the FCC begin an extensive review of the public comments, petitions and the reactions that could take several months, depending on the number and extent of the comments.

The FCC is expected to receive extensive comments on the deal including from Hollywood unions who have expressed concerns about it.