Senator Asks FCC to Block Comcast-NBC Universal Merger

Vermont's Bernie Sanders says the new conglomerate would cause 'irreparable damage to the American media landscape and ultimately to society as a whole.'

A U.S. senator is asking FCC to block the Comcast-NBC Universal merger, the New York Times reported late Monday.

Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, wrote a letter to the five commissioners, to be delivered Tuesday, asking them not to give their approval. The FCC, along with the Justice Department, must OK the merger before it can become official. They are both expected to approval the deal, but with conditions.

“The sale of NBCU to Comcast would create an enormously powerful, vertically integrated media conglomerate, causing irreparable damage to the American media landscape and ultimately to society as a whole,” he wrote.

He argued that the deal would lead to increased costs to consumers and would reduce competition and diversity in the media.

Sanders also hinted that Comcast had doubled its campaign contributions to politicians in a bid to help influence Congressional support. Congress, however, has no direct jurisdiction over approval of the merger.

The news of Sanders' letter comes the same day NBC Universal Television Entertainment chairman Jeff Gaspin confirmed that he would not be part of the new company, as previously reported exclusively by THR.

In other executive changes at the new company, NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker announced his departure in September, with Comcast naming COO Steve Burke as his replacement.

And it's expected that Robert Greenblatt will become head of NBC Entertainment. An announcement on the new leadership could come as early as Wednesday.

For his part, Sanders has taken issue with all the executive shuffling before the regulators have given their approval for the merger.

In the letter, he writes: “Although Comcast has done little to prove that the proposed merger is in the public interest, it has been busy measuring the drapes at NBC. Despite ongoing review, Comcast has on several occasions announced plans for replacing NBCU’s executives with Comcast staff and restructuring of NBCU’s senior leadership. These actions suggest a disregard for the important and ongoing agency reviews of the merger -- or worse, a belief that Comcast has successfully controlled the federal review process.”