After more than a year since announcing the deal, federal regulators have signed off on Comcast's bid to control NBC Universal, creating a new media behemoth that comprises a cable giant, a handful of TV networks and a Hollywood studio all under one roof. The $30-billion merger is expected to close before the end of the month, with Comcast controlling 51% of the joint venture and General Electric taking the remaining 49%.
Although many will be critical of the deal’s approval, concerned about media consolidation and unfair competition, the FCC and U.S. Justice Department reportedly imposed several conditions to the merger before giving it the go ahead in order to prevent the company from crushing smaller players.
For instance, under the agreement, Comcast is to be bound by the FCC’s net-neutrality rules -- even if Congress overturns those rules -- while the firm has also pledged to make broadband subscriptions available to 400,000 poor households for less than $10 per month. The commission also seeks to protect innovation in the emerging online-video marketplace by forcing Comcast to offer a no-TV-required broadband service, and demanding the company to sell its content to online distributors at the same price offered to cable and satellite companies.
In addition, if any of Comcast’s rivals cuts a deal to sell programs to an online-video service, Comcast must allow a similar deal for its programming. You can read more about the Comcast – NBC merger and its conditions at The Economist and Washington Post.