Friday, September 2, 2011

UPDATE: Federal Judge Okays Comcast NBC Purchase, Retains Oversight

US District Court Judge, Richard D. LeonImage via WikipediaIn U.S. v. Comcast (Case No. 11-cv-00106), U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Richard J. Leon this week approved the cable giant's acquisition of NBC Universal, Bloomberg News reports, but the federal court will retain oversight to monitor arbitration actions by video distributors.

In giving the thumbs up to the purchase that the FCC okayed by a 4-1 vote last January (see "TUOL" post 1/18/11), Judge Leon, cognizant of online video distributors' fears that the merger would freeze them out of NBC content and concerned the proposed arbitration process would squelch appeals, plans to convene annual hearings for at least two years at which Justice Department attorneys will present data on the number of arbitration requests by video distributors and whether the requests were approved or refused. Judge Leon also wants information on how many arbitration denials wind up before the FCC. Neutral arbitrators would oversee any such distributor dispute.

The Court's final judgment is set to expire in seven years.

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