FCC approves Comcast acquisition of NBC

In a landmark ruling that will undoubtedly change the telecommunications landscape, Comcast will be allowed to buy NBC.

Philadelphia-based Comcast reaches into 23 million TVs and 17 million computers, and NBC has vast film and television content resources. After nine months of deliberation, the Federal Communications Commission ruled that, together, the economies of scale will ultimately benefit customers.

But the deal rests on certain conditions.

To keep Comcast-NBC from monopolizing the industry, the FCC is requiring that all content offered to Comcast customers be made available to other cable TV and Internet video distributors at reasonable prices. It also cannot dismantle or withhold content from Hulu, a free Internet site streaming TV programs, owned by NBC.

“The government was able to find a sweet spot where they could protect the integrity of the development of that market by tying what we would have to do to what our peers would have to do,” said Comcast executive vice president David Cohen. “So there’s a lot of complexity there, but not necessarily a lot of restriction.”

The FCC conditions also cap cable pricing at its current rate for three years

There was one dissenting vote at the FCC. Commissioner Michael Copps said he does not believe customers will benefit from the merger, stating that “power is patient and that big businesses can bide their time when they have to in order to reap the fullest harvest.”

Cohen anticipates finalizing the transaction at the end of January.

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