FCC stops clock on Comcast, AT&T-DirecTV reviews
Like many frazzled parents, the Federal Communications Commission has called for a temporary timeout.
The FCC on Wednesday halted the 180-day clock that has been ticking on the government’s review of Comcast’s proposed $45-billion purchase of Time Warner Cable, and a separate clock on its review of telecommunications giant AT&T’s proposed $49-billion takeover of DirecTV.
The move was viewed as a routine administrative measure.
The agency said it needed time to referee an argument over how much sensitive business information contained in pay-TV carriage contracts should be revealed to third-parties.
Several media companies, including CBS Corp., Walt Disney Co., Discovery Communications and Viacom Inc., have protested a ruling to allow certain third-parties to view parts of their contracts with Comcast and DirecTV.
The FCC’s order to pause the clock on Wednesday was specifically prompted by requests by Dish Network, Writers Guild of America and others for more time to submit their replies to the FCC. The groups are opposed to the mergers.
The FCC’s move could delay a decision on the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal -- as well as its review of AT&T’s plan to buy DirecTV. However, the agency said it would continue its work on issues that are not related to programming agreements while the clock was stopped.
“As we noted previously, it is routine for the FCC to pause the review of significant transactions as it works to create a full record,” Sena Fitzmaurice, vice president of Comcast’s government communications, said in a statement. “We are confident that the commission will quickly resolve these issues while continuing its work so that review will be completed in early 2015.”
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