Friday, June 4, 2010

FCC to Hold Public Forum on Comcast-NBCU Merger

By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable

7-hour forum set for July 13 at Northwestern University Law School in Chicago

As expected, the FCC announced June 3 that it will hold a 7-hour public forum (1-8 p.m.) on the proposed Comcast-NBC Universal merger on July 13 at the Northwestern University Law School in Chicago.

There will be two panels followed by a two-hour block for questions from the public.No official word on who will attend, but as B&C reported Wednesday, Democratic Commissioners Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn are both planning to attend, according to FCC sources.

Media advocacy group Free Press was pleased with the announcemnt but still wants full-fledged hearings, which assume attendance by all five commissioners.

"We are pleased that the Commission will be hosting a public workshop on the Comcast-NBC merger, and that Commissioners Clyburn and Copps are expected to attend," said Free Press Policy Counsel Corie Wright. "However, given the proposed merger's likely impact on consumers and our media landscape, a hearing that includes all five FCC commissioners is key."

Deal critics, including Free Press, have been pushing the commission to hold a field hearing or hearings on the deal. So had Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Commissioner Copps.

While it is being billed as a workshop/public forum rather than a hearing (which all the commissioners would be expected to attend), the public will get a chance to weigh in. Chicago was the pick in part, said one FCC source, because Comcast has a major presence and NBC has an O&O station.

There may be other forums, said that source.The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a field hearing of its own on the deal for June 7 in L.A.

Waters is expected to attend that hearing, which is being presided over by Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), according to a committee source.

Free Press has advocated for FCC field hearings in markets most affected by the merger -- like Chicago -- and has pushed for commissioners' participation at those hearings.

Free Press' Push to Stop Comcast-NBCU Merger Swells Public Comments

Thousands file form complaint from group's web site.

Free Press' full court press to stop the Comcast-NBC Universal merger has begun to fill the FCC's public comment file on the proposed joint venture.According to the latest tally, which is likely to change quickly, that docket has swelled from about 1,500 comments three days ago to over 9,000 comments and climbing by Friday (May 21) midday.

The most recent overwhelmingly consist of a form complaint, or some variation of that complaint, from Free Press' Web site.Free Press has produced a video on its site likening the deal to a killer asteroid headed for the earth that needs to be destrouyed.While

Free Press advises Web surfers to supply their own comment on why the merger is a bad idea, a quick poll of the submission shows that many are simply signing on to Free Press' form comment, though some are adding emphasis or elaboration.

The FCC is scheduled to re-start its informal shot clock on vetting the merger beginning June 3.

FCC staffers have said they want to get the review done by year's end, which now would be about the same thing since the clock was stopped April 16 after only 29 days.


Free Press' Push to Stop Comcast-NBCU Merger Swells Public Comments05/21/2010
No Plans to Stream June 7 Comcast-NBCU Hearing06/04/2010
Free Press, Copps Want Field Hearings on Media Ownership05/25/2010
Comcast-NBC Universal: Complete Coverage12/05/2009
Comcast-NBCU: FCC's Clyburn Calls for Field Hearings on Merger05/11/2010
Jobs, Diversity Top Issues At Comcast-NBCU Hearing02/25/2010
Jobs, Diversity Top Issues At Comcast-NBCU Hearing02/25/2010
Comcast-NBCU: House Judiciary to Hold Field Hearing06/01/2010
Zucker: FCC Should Look Beyond Broadcasters For Spectrum02/25/2010
Zucker: FCC Should Look Beyond Broadcasters For Spectrum02/25/2010

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