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FCC Chief Discusses Agency Role in Merger Review Process

in Broadband's Impact/FCC/Transparency by

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2010 – Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski explained his agency’s role in the merger review process on Thursday before senators, with an emphasis on the pending union of NBC Universal and Comcast.

Genachowski told members of the Senate Commerce Committee at a hearing on “Consumers, Competition and Consolidation in the Video and Broadband Market” that the FCC is poised to protect and advance the interests of consumers, including children, while ensuring effective competition and encouraging the broad and rapid deployment of broadband and other advanced communications services.

However, he cautioned that the FCC must consider that the communications landscape “today is very different from five and 10 years ago, and will be very different five and 10 years from now.”

Genachowski noted that the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, which governs the FCC’s merger transaction strategy, “requires strict confidentiality,” but he added that he’s committed to working with fellow agency commissioners to ensure that its “review procedures meet the highest standards of openness, transparency, rigor, and fairness and minimize costs and delay while fully protecting the public interest.”

The FCC chief reminded senators that the agency begins its transaction-review process once a complete application has been received from the parties. In the Comcast/NBC Universal proceeding, the companies filed an initial application on Jan. 28 and sent the FCC a supplemental economic report as recent as Mar. 5.

He noted that “in the past, some have expressed concerns about whether FCC review of some transactions has taken longer than the circumstances warranted” but the agency is eager to move forward.

The commission soon will issue a notice that begins the public comment period and lets consumers know how they can address the applicants’ submissions and participate in the FCC proceeding, according to Genachowski.

He added that an FCC dedicated team has already begun to work on the proposed transaction.

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