With a lengthy pitch on the public interest value of creating a new content-focused joint venture that will boost quantity, quality, diversity and “local focus,” Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA), NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) and General Electric jointly filed a merger application/public interest statement with the Federal Communications Commission Thursday (Jan 28), launching what will likely be an almost year-long review.
That followed the filing earlier in the week with the Justice Department, which will look at competitive issues only. The FCC’s review goes beyond competition to look at the public interest impact of the deal, hence the lengthy filing (136 pages) accompanying the request for transfer of various cable and broadcast licenses. The $30 billion deal will also get scrutiny on Capitol Hill in hearings beginning next week.
The document lays out the public interest benefits in terms of the FCC’s four key interests: localism, diversity, competition and innovation. It argues that the deal promotes the first by increasing the quality and variety of content more than either company could do alone. With its commitment to boost local news programming by 1,000 hours on the O&O stations, as well as increase children’s and family programming and more, it argues that it is promoting localism. More from Broadcasting & Cable.