The Federal Communications Commission is taking a timeout in its review of the pending merger between Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable, while also pausing its examination of the AT&T-DirecTV combination.
“The commission said it had stopped the clocks on its 180-day review of those deals, which were set to expire by the end of March. It said it can restart the clock as it sees necessary,” The Wall Street Journal reports. The move comes while the FCC awaits a court decision on disclosure of video-programming contracts.
“The court case is over an FCC decision to give third parties commenting on the mergers limited access to video-programming contracts between the merging companies and TV-channel owners like CBS Corp., Walt Disney Co. and Viacom Inc.,” WSJ reports.
PCMag notes: “Those three companies and others have argued against the disclosure of material information like pricing and strategy insights. The FCC, meanwhile, believes the data would allow for input into deal reviews and has promised protections to prevent details being leaked to unauthorized parties.”
The FCC move is expected to delay both mergers. But the companies awaiting approval of their deals appear to be showing patience.
In a statement provided to PCMag, a spokeswoman for Comcast said: “We understand the FCC’s decision to pause the informal review clock while the court continues to review a procedural matter related to the transaction.”
Time Warner Cable sent an email to the publication saying: “We’re pleased with the progress of the FCC review and look forward to working with them to complete the regulatory review process.”
Meanwhile, an AT&T spokesman told PCMag: “We anticipate the issues surrounding the litigation between the FCC and the programmers to be resolved quickly so the FCC can complete its review of our transaction. We continue to look forward to closing our deal in the first half of the year.”