WASHINGTON (AFP) – US regulators were on the verge of approving cable giant Comcast’s purchase of entertainment titan NBC Universal and could announce the deal as early as Tuesday, a US newspaper reported.
The Wall Street Journal’s website, citing unnamed sources, said Monday that Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officials spent the weekend making last-minute revisions to an order clearing the deal.
It added that the US Justice Department is ready to approve the deal “with conditions” shortly after the FCC gives it the green light.
In December FCC officials said their chairman Julius Genachowksi was prepared to approve the deal provided it included certain conditions related to programming access and online video distribution.
The final FCC decision would be put to a vote by a five-member panel.
The acquisition of NBC Universal would give Comcast, the largest US cable television and high-speed broadband provider, a media and entertainment empire to rival that of The Walt Disney Company.
It would combine Comcast’s cable television and Internet operations with NBC Universal’s vast stable of news, movie and television programming, creating an unparalleled marriage of distribution and content.
The mega-deal has triggered scrutiny from the FCC, the Justice Department, consumer groups and some members of Congress, who have raised concerns it would give Comcast too much power.
The Justice Department has yet to release its opinion on the deal, which would see General Electric sell 51 percent of its stake in NBC Universal to Comcast.
The European Commission gave its green light to the takeover last July.
NBC Universal’s cable and broadcast holdings include NBC — the oldest of the four major US broadcast networks — financial news channel CNBC, news channel MSNBC, The Weather Channel, Bravo and the Spanish-language Telemundo.
Comcast runs several television channels including the Style Network, the Golf Channel and E! Entertainment Television.