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House Judiciary Committee to hold hearing on Comcast-NBC deal in Los Angeles

In an unusual move, Congress' probe of cable giant Comcast Corp.'s merger with NBC Universal is going on the road.

SHARPTON On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing about the proposed $30-billion deal at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. The hearing, which will be open to the public, was pushed by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), a Judiciary Committee member who has also been pressuring the Federal Communications Commission to hold hearings on the deal outside of the Washington area. Although field hearings are not unheard of, they are seldom used in the case of mergers.

Waters has emerged as one of the sharpest critics of the deal and has expressed concern about how the combination of Comcast with NBC will affect minorities. She sent a letter to the FCC with 50 questions for Comcast and NBC about their hiring and programming practices. This is the second crack the Judiciary Committee will get at NBC and Comcast executives. Last February, the committee held a hearing that dragged on almost seven hours and included NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker being grilled by Waters over what she feels is NBC's lack of diversity in its programs.

Although Waters is worried about the merger, another prominent African American politician and activist, the Rev. Al Sharpton sent FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski a letter last week supporting the merger and praising Comcast and NBC .

"The Comcast-NBCU joint venture has the potential to mark a new era in media and communications in which all consumers, from every demographic background, can more easily and economically reap the benefits of easy access to content across multiple platforms," Sharpton wrote.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Al Sharpton. Credit: Stephen Chernin / Associated Press

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The biggest area of concern is the monopoly Big cable will have over content distribution and the ability to effectively kill commercial broadcast television (free over the air tv) will suffer. Comcast is moving on NBC to proactively head off its own demise, as the nationwide digital transistion we saw last year represents a serious threat to the subscription model of its business. FREE OTA HD DTV is better in every aspect and this scares the cable companies, so what better way to save your self than to gooble up the competition before it can fully realize its true potential. With NBC out of the picture and Disney mulling a sale of ABC most likely to Time Warner, Big Cable will destroy the commercial TV market in the United States.


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