FCC declares Comcast-NBCU joint venture to be broadly acceptable, issues order

Senior FCC officials Thursday morning said the commission has determined the transaction between Comcast and NBC Universal that will result in a new joint Venture handling the two companies' content to be acceptably within the public's interest, and an order about the transaction will be circulated later today.

This is not outright approval of the deal, which was first announced in late 2009, and has been under intense scrutiny since. With a transaction of this size, there's still a great deal of time before it can be decisively approved by both the FCC and the Department of Justice.

The deal, once completed will mark a split in Comcast's brand. The cable and internet side of the business changed its branding to Xfinity earlier this year, and the joint venture with NBCU (in which Comcast will have a 51% stake, and GE will have 49%) is still unnamed. When the joint venture was announced in 2009, Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts only said the constituent networks would retain their consumer brand names.

FCC officials said today that developments in new media, specifically in streaming over the top video, have had major impact on proceedings, but that on balance, the joint venture falls within the broad "public interest standard" which includes such conditions as program access and carriage.

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