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Justice Department to Conduct Antitrust Review of Comcast-Time Warner Cable Deal

Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer, the highest DOJ antitrust officer, will recuse himself, however

The Justice Department on Thursday said its antitrust division will review Comcast’s $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable.

While not totally a surprise, the review suggests that the Justice Department isn’t accepting Comcast’s word that because the deal involves the addition of TWC’s cable systems in non-competing markets to Comcast’s, it doesn’t raise significant antitrust issues.

Critics have suggested that the deal could give Comcast too much market power in determining the fate of new cable channels. Comcast has argued the merger would benefit the public.

Also read: Why Comcast’s Time Warner Cable Purchase Could Choke Internet Access

Thursday’s announcement means that the Federal Communications Commission will be working with the Department of Justice on the review, as the two agencies did on Comcast’s deal for NBC Universal.

The Justice Department reviews antitrust implications of a deal. The FCC reviews public interest implications.

The Justice Department in announcing the review on Thursday said the top Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer will recuse himself from the review and the investigation will be overseen by two experienced antitrust practitioners, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Renata B. Hesse who will be the Acting Assistant Attorney General on the matter and Deputy Assistant Attorney General David Gelfand.