Many conditions part of approval
According to Amy Schatz at wsj.com, the Justice Department is expected to also approve the deal as early as Tuesday with conditions aimed at preventing the cable giant from stifling competition in the pay-television and online video markets.
FCC commissioners approved the deal Tuesday on a 4-1 vote, with Democratic FCC Commissioner Michael Copps voting against the deal. Mr. Copps is a vocal opponent of increased media consolidation and he maintained the Comcast-NBC combination wasn't in the public's best interest.
The FCC imposed a variety of conditions on the deal designed to prevent Comcast from denying NBC programming and Comcast regional sports networks from its pay-TV and online competitors. The nation's largest cable company will be required to set aside a number of channels for independent programmers and agreed to keep NBC network programming on free over-the-air TV stations.
Comcast is also barred from favoring its own online programming over competitors and the company agreed to abide by the FCC's new "net neutrality" rules -- which would bar the company from deliberately blocking websites or slowing broadband traffic -- for seven years. The cable giant will be required to live under the net neutrality rules even if a federal appeals court ultimately throws them out, which is a possibility.
Many of the conditions that are part of the FCC's approval came from voluntary concessions Comcast has made over the past few months in hopes of getting the deal approved.
The company agreed to air more children's programming, limit interactive advertisements for children and offer stand-alone Internet access for $49.95 a month. It promised to adopt a hands-off approach to the NBC News division.
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