Flurry of Last-Minute Lobbying as Comcast-NBC Universal Merger Nears Approval


With the FCC and Justice Department in the final stages of their regulatory reviews of Comcast's proposed acquisition of 51 percent in NBC Universal, people both for and against the deal are reportedly making some last-minute efforts to make sure their arguments are heard.

Among those lobbying the FCC are Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, who last week met with Republican commissioners Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell along with Edward Lazarus, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski's chief of staff, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Last month, Genachowski submitted a proposal to FCC members to approve the Comcast-NBC Universal merger. The FCC did not make public the conditions in the proposal, but they are said to require that Comcast not discriminate when it comes to making video content from NBC as well as Comcast networks like E! and Versus available to pay TV competitors, and to allow third-party providers to get their content on Comcast systems under reasonable terms.

The proposal still needs to be approved by at least three of the five FCC members.

Meanwhile, 97 members of the House signed a letter sent to the FCC last week, urging the commission to sign off "without further delay." (It's worth noting -- but not unusual, as the Times points out -- that 84 of those signing the letter had received donations from Comcast, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.)

On the other side of the issue, the FCC also continues to hear anti-merger arguments from several parties, including DirecTV executives, who reportedly are seeking conditions on how Comcast will negotiate programming agreements with rivals.

Executives at the Tennis Channel are making a case that the merger will harm smaller cable networks, while the American Cable Assn., which works on behalf of small cable operators has expressed concerns that Comcast might raise prices on its cable networks.

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