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Rush Hour on Comcast-TWC

WASHINGTON — The clock has officially started on the Federal Communications Commission’s review of the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger July 10. That means the agency has set itself an informal 180-day deadline, which would put a decision in early January. It also means the FCC has set the comment deadlines for the deal, the last of which is Oct. 8.

Satellite-TV provider Dish Network did not wait for the clock to start before weighing in against the deal last week. Company founder and chairman Charlie Ergen talked to the offices of all five commissioners and said the deal should be blocked, the first time his company has officially come out against the deal.

That did not come as a big surprise to Comcast. “Dish not wanting stronger competitors isn’t surprising and it isn’t new,” the company said in a statement. “Any issues regarding NBCUniversal programming and other video services, whether they be traditional or over the top, are already amply covered by pre-existing FCC rules and deal conditions.”

Discovery did not take a position on the deal, but it has employed a couple of veteran lobbyists from Glover Park Group to make the rounds, according to a disclosure form obtained by Multichannel News. They are Susan Brophy, the former chief of staff to retired Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), and Gregg Rothschild, a key staffer to former Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).