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Comcast/NBCU Vote Unlikely Until at Least Next Week

With all five FCC commissioners scheduled to head off for the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas at the end of this week, FCC sources say the Comcast/NBCU deal is unlikely to get voted out until at least next week.

The chairman is slated for a keynote interview Friday, and the other four commissioners for a panel session the same day.

It is possible that one or more commissioners could vote the item before next week, but all five have to weigh in before it is official and an FCC source close to one of those commissioners said that was highly unlikely.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski circulated a draft Dec. 23 concluding that the joint venture, with numerous conditions, was in the public interest, which is the FCC's standard for review. Justice is expected to second that in its own antitrust review, which has been coordinated with the FCC's vetting.

The deal is expected to be approved by a commission majority, though possibly with dissents on individual conditions from various commissioners.

Media consolidation's strongest FCC critic, Commissioner Michael Copps, could hold the high card at least in terms of the timing of the vote, particularly if there are conditions he is looking to strengthen.

Copps was arguably the swing vote on the network neutrality rules approved Dec. 21. He said he seriously considered not voting for them before finally deciding that they were at least a step in the right direction, if not the stride he had been looking for.