Comcast, NBC Universal Extend Deal Agreement

Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the announcement that the cable giant would take a 51% stake in General Electric's entertainment arm.

NEW YORK - Comcast and General Electric's NBC Universal can't celebrate a done deal Friday, which marks the one-year anniversary of the announcement of a combination of the largest U.S. cable operator and the entertainment company. But amid a continuing regulatory review, they took a technical step, seen as a pure formality, in the form of a 90-day extension of the master agreement behind their proposed $30 billion joint venture.

In the big deal announcement last year, the cable giant said it would take a 51% controlling stake in NBC Uni.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, Comcast said the deal partners have extended their master agreement, which would otherwise have expired Friday. The deal arrangement allows for two 90-day extensions in case of a drawn-out regulatory review process. With the first extension, the agreement now expires March 3.
Latest chatter out of Washington suggests that the FCC has started circulating parts of a draft decision on the deal, but a final decision may only come early in 2011 due to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski's proposal on net neutrality that will get submitted to a vote on Dec. 21.

Observers increasingly expect several conditions to be attached to a deal approval by the FCC and Justice Department.

A Comcast spokeswoman declined comment on possible conditions, but said the company is focused on providing any information the FCC may need to wrap up its decision on the deal by year's end.