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CHICAGO – At the Federal Communications Commission’s public hearing next week on the proposed merger of Comcast and NBC Universal, Free Press President and CEO Josh Silver will testify about the merger’s impact on the marketplace for online video. The July 13 hearing is slated to begin at 1:00 p.m., with opening remarks from FCC Commissioner Michael Copps. The public will have a chance to speak out about the proposed merger both in person and via Twitter.

The hearing will consist of two panels on online video distribution and multichannel video programming. Silver will speak on the online video distribution panel along with Cardozo Law School Professor Susan Crawford and Markham Erickson of the Open Internet Coalition. Tyrone Brown, president of Media Access Project, will be on the multichannel video programming panel.

There will be an opportunity for the public to comment after the panels. Sign up opens at 5:00 p.m., and the comment period begins at 6:00 p.m. During the comment period, the Commission will take questions from the audience, and also from online participants on Twitter using the hashtag #fccNBC.

Here are the details:

WHAT: FCC Public Hearing on Comcast-NBC Universal Merger

DATE: Tuesday, July 13, 2010

TIME: 1:00-8:00 p.m., public comment period from 6:00-8:00 p.m.

LOCATION: Northwestern University Law School
Thorne Auditorium
375 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL

Free Press, the national, nonpartisan media reform organization, is urging people to attend the hearing and educating the public about the negative impacts of unchecked media consolidation.

Comcast’s takeover of NBC could be particularly harmful to Chicago, where Comcast is already the dominant cable and Internet service provider. If the merger is approved, Comcast would acquire NBC 5 Chicago and Telemundo Chicago, as well as Versus, the cable channel that carries Chicago Blackhawks games. Comcast would also own the NBC broadcast network, dozens of cable channels, 24 other local broadcast stations, TV and movie studios and major websites.

“We encourage the people of Chicago to come out to the hearing and make your voices heard, and if you’re not based in Chicago, to participate online,” said Josh Silver of Free Press. “It’s important that the FCC hears from the public about the impact that Comcast’s takeover of NBC will have on them and their communities. The merger is particularly bad for Americans in cities like Chicago, where Comcast is the main cable provider and NBC owns local TV stations. If the merger is approved, Comcast will own one in five TV viewing hours; cable bills will rise; and consumers will have fewer choices in programming. The deal would threaten local competition, newsgathering and advertising.”

To learn more, visit

***Note to editors and producers: Free Press President and CEO Josh Silver and Associate Program Director Josh Stearns will be in Chicago for the hearing and are available for interviews.

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