FCC Gives First Blessing To Comcast, NBC Merger

The Federal Communications Commission has given preliminary approval towards a merger between Comcast, the nation's biggest internet and cable company, and NBC-Universal. The deal would create of the country's largest entertainment conglomerate. The approval comes with conditions, however.

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The Federal Communications Commission has given preliminary approval for a merger between Comcast - the nation's biggest Internet and cable company - and NBC Universal. The deal would create the country's largest entertainment conglomerate.

NPR's Neda Ulaby reports.

NEDA ULABY: What has competitors and public interest types hot and bothered is that the new company would not just create, but distribute entertainment. NBC Universal - itself the product of a merger six years ago - owns a vast amount of valuable content.

(Soundbite of "The Office" theme song)

ULABY: Television shows such as "The Office," "Law and Order" and "Saturday Night Live." It owns 13 channels, including Bravo, MSNBC, Syfy and the second-biggest provider of Spanish-language content in the world.

(Soundbite of Telemundo theme song)

ULABY: And it controls some of the world's most popular theme parks.

(Soundbite of Universal Studios commercial)

Mr. DAN CASTELLANETA (Actor): (as Homer Simpson) Woo-hoo!

(Soundbite of screaming)

Unidentified Man: Springfield comes to Universal Studios. It's the all-new Simpsons ride.

ULABY: Meanwhile, Comcast has almost one out of every four cable subscribers in the United States.

In a news conference, FCC officials identified five areas of concern about the deal, but they said it tilts in the favor of public interest. They want to make sure Comcast will not withhold NBC Universal shows and movies from competitors. The Justice Department is also reviewing the deal for anti-trust violations. But it's expected to go through by the end of next month.

Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

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