FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski would not comment on a possible NBCU/Comcast merger Tuesday in an interview on CNBC.
In the first question out of the gate in his first appearance on CNBC's Power Lunch program, the chairman said he could not comment on any "potential hurdles or concerns," saying it should come as no surprise that he could not talk about it "at all."
"We have nothing before us at the FCC and nothing to comment on," he said when pressed by the interviewer about the 800 pound gorilla in the room--the news that GE and Vivendi had reached a deal for Vivendi's share of NBCU, paving the way for GE to merge with Comcast.
Asked if he would take any position on vertical integration and whether or not it would help out the media business, Genachowski stood firm. "I think if we commented on rumors and speculations we would be doing nothing but commenting on them, so we have no comment."
Genachowski was being interviewed following a speech to a conference in Washington.
At the same conference GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, asked whether NBC Universal was still part of the company's "core competency," answered philosophically: "We have been in the media business, I like my team, and I am quite comfortable with it. But I think complacency equals arrogance in a company setting. I have never wanted to be complacent about how we think about GE, and I am not going to be that way today."
At the conference, Genachowski made another pitch for more spectrum and echoed that on Power Lunch. He told CNBC the FCC had the potential to lead the world in mobile broadband. The problem is that there isn't enough spectrum coming online. While about three times the current allocation is coming online, he said, the demand is likely to increase 30-fold. "If we don't act, we will have a gap that will have a real cost to the country in terms of innovation down the road."
Asked to define and defend network neutrality, Genachowski said he was just trying to preserve something that had always existed. "We have had extraordinary success with the Internet because we have had net neutrality," which he called an extraordinary marketplace for ideas and products and services."
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