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Comcast faces off with the FCC again

by on16 March 2015

Big purchase on hold

US telco Comcast is once again trying to show the US telecoms watchdog the FCC that it is a toothless wonder.

Comcast is trying to buy Time Warner Cable while AT&T wants DirecTV. However the FCC said it can’t go forward with the review of these deals until a court determines whether interested parties should be granted limited access to confidential information about the involved companies.

The FCC wants to make certain confidential information — which would include contracts that Comcast, TWC, and DirecTV have with broadcast and cable TV networks — available for review by attorneys of third parties with a direct interest in these mergers. This is because the people who might have a problem with Comcast and AT&T getting more monopolistic powers might need to see the paperwork to make an informed comment.

The FCC already has these documents and is free to review them on their own, but the broadcasters do not want the data shared with people outside of the Commission, even if done under high security and strict non-disclosure agreements.

In November 2014, a court granted a preliminary stay against the FCC making these documents available to outside parties, but allowed the Commission to continue to review them on their own, so the deals went forward.

But on February 20, the three-judge appeals court panel heard arguments from both sides regarding the necessity of sharing the information with third parties.

Until the appeals panel issues its ruling on this matter, the FCC says it can’t move forward with the final stage of reviewing these mergers.


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