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Sen. Franken wants Justice Dept. to investigate Comcast

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who has been outspoken about his concerns with Comcast Corp.'s proposed deal to take over control of NBC Universal, has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether the cable giant was violating antitrust rules.

In a letter to Christine Varney, the assistant attorney general for antitrust and the official who is overseeing the Justice Department's review of the merger, Franken said Comcast might be "seeking to indirectly exert managerial and operational control" of NBC Universal before its deal closes.

FRANKENFranken was writing in response to Comcast's announcement last week outlining the executive structure of NBC Universal after the merger is complete. The company unveiled the management team it said would head NBC Universal. Left out of that team and leaving after the deal closes are top NBC Universal executives Jeff Zucker and Jeff Gaspin.

This act, Franken said, may make Comcast guilty of "gun-jumping." Citing the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, Franken said the law "prohibits certain merging companies from acquiring 'beneficial ownership, whether direct or indirect,' of one another before the end of a federally mandated waiting period."

That, Franken added, "may also facilitate and encourage NBC Universal personnel to provide their prospective superiors with competitively sensitive information."

Franken also noted that back in September after Comcast Chief Operating Officer Steve Burke was named head of NBC Universal, the company said there would be "no additional structural or personnel announcements until the deal closing process and timing is certain."

In a statement, Comcast said there was nothing out of the ordinary in anything it had done regarding NBC Universal.

“Transition and integration planning  is common, proper, and expected in a transaction of this type," a company spokeswoman said, adding that "NBC Universal has remained in total control of all decision making to date, Comcast has had no role in NBC Universal business operations."

-- Joe Flint

Related post: Comcast unveils NBC Universal management team

Photo: Sen. Al Franken. Credit: Dennis Brack/Bloomberg News

 
Comments () | Archives (4)

Comcast doesn't want to respect it's employee rights to form a union. During a NLRB hearing to determine the bargaining unit for Comcast's Seattle field office. Comcast management lied about interactions between departments to add them to the bargaining unit of just field technicians. In order to cause resentment between departments that didn't want to be represented by a labor union and field technicians. Three brave field technicians including my-self. Took to the stand in the NLRB hearing and discredited the lies Comcast's management tried to tell the NLRB. Comcast workers are being targeted for union involvement and fired in some cases. View the web site www.comcastworkers.com to see what is happening at Comcast around the United States. The deal between NBC UNIVERSAL shouldn't go forward. More americans especially the union represented employees of NBC UNIVERSAL. Don't let the rat pack (Brian and Ralph Roberts) continue to distroy the american economy any further.

Sincerely,

Tyler C.
Proud Member of the IBEW VOC

It looks like Franken got a call from his buddies at NBC Universal - Zucker and Gaspin. I wonder how much they contributed, or will contribute, to Franken's campaign coffers? Someone should probably investigate that.

HW

The Comcast-NBCU merger is a further step toward vertical integration in an industry that is already far too vertically integrated. The merger would make them the Standard Oil of entertainment and would certainly lead to more consolidation in the industry. The late Stephen J. Cannell always maintained that content creation and distribution should be kept separate by law. Al Franken should be commended for taking a stand on this issue. Unfortunately he is one of few members of Congress who is taking an interest.

I thought it was CableTown, not Comcast.


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