Reaction was begining to come in on the FCC chairman's proposed conditional approval of the Comcast/NBCU deal, though two days before Christmas the usual flood of reaction that would follow the announcement was still a trickle at press time.
Arguably the deal's biggest supporter, Comcast, signaled that it could live with the conditions,--not surprising since it has been in close contact with the FCC as well as Justice --while Free Press, one of its biggest critics, was looking at it as a big lump of coal in consumer's stocking.
The order was still being circulated among the commissioners, but the fact that Comcast was relatively happy with it and Free Press was warning against rubber-stamping it indicates it isn't a deal-breaker.
Free Press, which strongly opposes the deal, was equally critical of the announced order. Responding to press reports that it was poised to approve it, the groups said consumers would be the ones footing the bill for another media merger through "higher bills and fewer choices."
"We are deeply disappointed that the FCC is apparently moving to approve this merger," said Free Press Policy Counsel Crrie Wright, though she pointed out that it must still bet vetted and voted by a majority of the commissioners. "The conditions reportedly proposed by the FCC chairman recognize this danger," she said. "But we have serious concerns that they will go far enough to protect the public from this unprecedented media behemoth...Comcast may be rushing to get this deal done as quickly as possible, but the FCC should put down its rubber stamp and be sure they have reviewed all the evidence and reflected on the long-term impacts of more media consolidation."
Various commission staffers were unavailable for comment given the proximity to the holidays, but Meredith Attwell
Baker's office issued the following: "We have received the proposed order on the Comcast/NBCU merger and will be
reviewing it carefully to ensure that it is in the public interest."
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