Office Hours

Washington signs off on the Comcast-NBC merger

We saw a press release from the Washington Attorney General's office today. It said Rob McKenna and several other state AGs have formally agreed to the U.S. Department of Justice settlement that allows Comcast to merge with NBC Universal.

What we're not sure about is whether any of the states raised any issues that weren't already addressed by consumer groups, media companies and public interest entities.

The release sent by the McKenna office doesn't list any one or two major points that the AGs collectively made a big deal out of.

Today was also the day the real decision took place, in Washington, D.C., when the FCC formally gave its approval to the media merger, which will create a mammoth conglomerate with a trove of media content, along with the nation's largest cable system (not to mention being one of the nation's biggest Internet service providers, providing the system that is the primary way many will get entertainment and news).

A full summary of the agreement is at FCC.gov.

One of the several key points in the approval required that localism become a major focus for the merged media company. That agreement says:  "To further broadcast localism, Comcast-NBCU will maintain at least the current level of news and information programming on NBC’s and Telemundo’s owned-and-operated (“O&O”) broadcast stations, and in some cases expand news and other local content.

NBC and Telemundo O&O stations also will provide thousands of additional hours of local news and information programming to their viewers, and some of its NBC stations will enter into cooperative arrangements with locally focused nonprofit news organizations.  Additional free, on-demand local programming will be made available as well."

We believe that means we'll see a gain in local news and information programming from stations like KHQ and from the local government-public access channels provided here by Comcast.




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Tom Sowa
Tom Sowa covers technology, retail and economic development and writes the Office Hours blog.




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