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FCC approves Comcast takeover of NBC-Universal

 FCC approves Comcast takeover of NBC Universal

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) put its stamp of approval Tuesday on a plan by cable-provider Comcast to acquire NBC Universal.

“In a 4-to-1 vote, the FCC determined the deal was in the nation’s public interest and assigned a number of conditions to the venture to ensure that Comcast shares content with cable competitors and gives other networks fair access to its customers,” The Washington Post noted.

The US Justice Department is also ready to approve the deal “with conditions,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

The acquisition of NBC Universal would give Comcast, the largest US cable television and high-speed broadband provider, a media and entertainment empire to rival that of The Walt Disney Company.

It would combine Comcast’s cable television and Internet operations with NBC Universal’s vast stable of news, movie and television programming, creating an unparalleled marriage of distribution and content.

The mega-deal has triggered scrutiny from the FCC, the Justice Department, consumer groups and some members of Congress, who have raised concerns it would give Comcast too much power.

In late November, Level 3 Communications accused Comcast of flexing its muscle and charging more to deliver online streaming movies for its partner Netflix. They called the move “extortion,” suggesting it’s just a shadow of business practices to come.

The Justice Department had yet to release its opinion on the deal, which would see General Electric sell 51 percent of its stake in NBC Universal to Comcast.

The European Commission gave its green light to the takeover last July.

NBC Universal’s cable and broadcast holdings include NBC — the oldest of the four major US broadcast networks — financial news channel CNBC, news channel MSNBC, The Weather Channel, Bravo and the Spanish-language Telemundo.

Comcast runs several television channels including the Style Network, the Golf Channel and E! Entertainment Television.

— With AFP

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