Public Interest Groups Call for Local Hearings on Comcast/NBC Merger

Contact Info: 

Liz Rose, Free Press, 202-265-1490 x 32 or 202 355 3559 (c)

WASHINGTON -- Public interest groups are asking the FCC to hold public field hearings on Comcast's proposed takeover of NBC Universal.

In a letter sent today to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Free Press, the Media Access Project, Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America called on the FCC to meet with the public in local communities where the merged company could dominate the local broadcasting and cable markets.

The groups expressed concern that the FCC has yet to release a schedule or plans for public hearings on the proposed Comcast-NBC deal, despite FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's pledge to increase public participation in agency matters.

The letter states: “This Commission has repeatedly expressed its commitment to greater transparency and public outreach. Indeed, in a number of other important proceedings, the FCC has scheduled and held multiple field hearings. We expect this same commitment to apply to the Commission’s review of specific transactions, particularly those with as far-reaching implications for consumers and the public as presented in the Comcast-NBCU merger.”

The letter notes that the FCC has scheduled and held field hearings in the past before major transactions, including AOL/Time Warner, AT&T/Media One, MCI WorldCom/Sprint, SBC/Ameritech, Bell Atlantic/GTE and AT&T/Tele-Communications Inc.

“The impact of a Comcast-NBC union will be felt by consumers at the local level,” said Corie Wright, policy counsel for Free Press. “Consequently, the Commission should give consumers the opportunity to participate in the proceeding and speak about how they and their communities would be affected.”

Thousands of Americans have told the FCC that they have concerns about this merger: http://act2.freepress.net/letter/comcast

Read the letter from public interest groups to the FCC: http://www.freepress.net/files/FCC_hearing_request_letter_April_2010.pdf

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