FCC Restarts Clocks on Comcast-TW Cable, AT&T-DirecTV Merger Reviews

The FCC has restarted the clock on its review of the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, as well as that of AT&T and DirecTV, establishing new deadlines for comments to be filed on the transactions.

The next deadline for comment in the Comcast proceeding is Dec. 23. That is when replies and responses to previous comments are due.

A big question is how major content companies like Discovery Communications will formally respond to Comcast’s claim that rivals and other parties have used the proceedings to try to extract favorable deal terms as the price for their support, with what Comcast called “extortionate” demands.

The next deadline for responses in the AT&T-DirecTV proceeding is Jan. 7.

The FCC said that the Comcast proceeding is being restarted on day 85 of an informal 180-day review period. The AT&T review is being restarted at day 70.

The clock was stopped in the Comcast proceeding initially to give more time for companies and other parties to respond to Comcast’s massive Sept. 23 filing in defense of the merger. But a dispute later emerged when companies like CBS, Disney and Time Warner objected to FCC plans to give third parties access to confidential programming contracts as they sought to respond to the merger proposals. Although access to such information is subject to protective orders, content companies are challenging the FCC’s plans in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The D.C. Circuit already indicated that the FCC’s review of the mergers could continue as the litigation plays out. The FCC said that it would consider further adjustments to its review deadlines and timeline based on a court ruling.

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