Red Flags for Comcast NBC U Deal?

Business Week is reporting that attorney generals in at least five states are involved in the antitrust review of the combination of Comcast and NBC Universal.

The Justice Department is reviewing the pact, and while its Antitrust Division keeps things close to the vest, state officials have joined in phone calls as the investigation is conducted, the magazine reports.

In addition, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has started his own investigation, concentrating on how the deal would impact competition.

This does not mean that the feds are ready to reject the deal — but it could be a signal that Comcast and NBC Universal should be ready for some significant conditions. Some 17 states joined the Justice Department in January in a settlement that led to the approval of Ticketmaster’s merger with LiveNation, but with some major conditions attached.

Meanwhile, the FCC launched its public review process, allowing anyone to submit comments for or against the merger. As could be expected, the comments in opposition far outnumber those for. Many are on the order of, ‘If Comcast can’t be trusted to provide good cableservice, how can they be trusted to own a broadcast network?’ Several minority rights orgs, led by the Mabuhay Alliance, have called for extensive public hearings, examining the impact of the deal on diversity. The alliance also calls for a “special master” to collect data from Comcast and NBC U on programs that have referenced Asian Americans over the past five years.

Comcast vigorously opposes such an idea, arguing that the process will grind to a halt.

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