Comcast says NBC Universal deal won't close until 2011
Comcast Corp. made official what everyone in the media industry already knew. Its proposed deal to acquire control of General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal won't get through its regulatory review or close before the end of 2010.
In a statement, Comcast said that although the cable company believes the Federal Communications Commission and Dept. of Justice continues to make "substantial process toward approval of our transaction " ... it now appears that we will not be able to close the transaction with GE relating to NBC Universal by year-end."
Comcast, which struck the $30-billion deal with GE for a controlling stake in NBC Universal in December 2009, had been pushing to get the merger reviewed and finalized by lawmakers and regulators before 2011. The company, anticipating that it will be approved, already announced its executive team for NBC Universal and started the process of pushing out current NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker and NBC Universal Television Entertainment chief Jeff Gaspin.
The FCC and Justice Dept. are reviewing the deal and focusing heavily on whether the combination of Comcast's cable and broadband business with NBC's content will give the new entity unfair advantage over rivals on the Internet and cable.
Comcast and NBC Universal already had indicated they had doubts the deal would close in 2010 a few weeks ago when they filed an extension of the master agreement for the merger with the Securities & Exchange Commission.
-- Joe Flint