Policy

More Time For Comcast, NBC Universal

12/06/2010 12:00 AM Eastern

Washington — Comcast and NBC Universal have
agreed to a 90-day extension of their proposed $30
billion joint venture.

Either party had the option of nixing the deal a year
after it was struck, unless both sides agreed to an extension.

That extension was conveyed to the Securities and
Exchange Commission Friday in a filing described as a
pro forma renewal of the deal.

Friday (Dec. 3) was the one-year anniversary of the
announced agreement.

The merger is widely expected to be approved, but
with a number of conditions that could include access
to regional sports networks and perhaps some access
or outside arbitration conditions on access to online
video as well.

One highly placed Federal Communications Commission
official expected the deal to be conditionsheavy;
another appeared to support that contention
with the observation that the draft decision may be as
long as 200 pages.

Comcast acknowledged the possibility of some of
those conditions in a meeting with a top FCC transactions
adviser.

Kathy Zachem, vice president of regulatory and state
legislative affairs for Comcast, said a “program-access
remedy” for online video distribution would be “very
complicated.”

In recent weeks, Comcast has withstood a torrent
of criticism as special interest groups and companies
demand conditions be put on the merger agreement.
Last week, Level 3 Communications Inc.
accused Comcast Corp. of setting up a “toll booth”
for Web traffic, a move that the firm said violated
network-neutrality principles. Comcast accused
Level 3 of trying to avoid
legitimate interconnection
fees.

Comcast has committed
to making programming
available online
via both nbc.com and
Hulu, the online video
service partly owned by
NBCU.

September