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FCC pauses Comcast-Time Warner merger review until January 12

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U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Monday once again paused its review of the proposed $45 billion merger of Comcast Corp and Time Warner Cable Inc, citing delays in getting documents from Time Warner Cable.

The FCC is studying whether the merger, which would combine the two biggest U.S. cable companies, is in the public interest. It had self-imposed an informal 180-day countdown for the review, which will now be paused at day 104 until January 12.

The FCC said it learned this month that Time Warner Cable had improperly withheld more than 7,000 documents the regulators had requested, based on an “inappropriate claim of attorney-client privilege.” The agency learned later that more than 31,000 requested documents were missing due to a vendor error.

Time Warner Cable submitted the privileged documents in early December but expected to deliver a revised “privilege log” in mid-January. The FCC had asked the companies to respond to its data request by September 11.

After the agency reviewers expressed concern about the delays, Time Warner Cable promised to produce the missing documents on Monday, but the FCC said it needed extra time to study new submissions.

“The magnitude of the errors … is material and the delays in rectifying them were substantial so that the tardy productions have interfered with the commission’s ability to conduct a prompt and thorough review of the pending applications,” FCC Media Bureau Chief William Lake wrote to the companies’ Washington officials on Monday.

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The FCC had paused the review from Oct. 3 to Dec. 3, first for the companies to respond to a massive data request and then to deal with a dispute over confidentiality of documents related to agreements with media companies.

Pauses are common in large merger reviews.

“Today’s delay is a procedural issue, not a substantive one,” Time Warner Cable spokesman Bobby Amirshahi said in a statement. “We already have provided the FCC more than five million pages of documents and we will continue to provide the FCC everything that they need to review this transaction.”

Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice said the companies remained on track for the review to be concluded early in 2015.

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“We are confident that any outstanding documents will be produced to the FCC in an expedited manner,” she said.

To read the FCC’s letter, see http://fcc.us/1t2ViDv

(Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Richard Chang)

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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Establishment Dems pressuring new congress members to attend AIPAC Israel junket: report

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For years, freshman Democratic lawmakers have faced pressure to attend an AIPAC sponsored trip to Israel, where they were denied access to Gaza and other territories controlled by Israel.

The pressure remains stronger than ever today, reports The Intercept, even as Israel's mideast policy is increasingly questioned.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) assured AIPAC that this year the trip would be as well attended as it has been previously. “Like many of you, I’ve traveled to the communities in the south of Israel that have endured rockets and tunnels. I’ve traveled with over 150 of my fellow Democratic members of Congress to meet with those who live under the constant threat of terror,” he said in an April address to AIPAC.

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Trump leveled by retired general for making Iran war decisions based on advice from Fox News hosts

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During a panel discussion on the increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran after a drone was shot down by the Middle Eastern country in international airspace, a retired general claimed he was worried about Donald Trump's response based upon who it appears the president listens to when it comes to advice.

Speaking with host John Berman, retired Lt. General Mark Hertling warned that the shootdown was a dangerous provocation.

"It's huge, John," Hertling explained. "You can go all the way from backing down completely to a full-scale war -- that's what's dangerous about this situation."

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DOJ money laundering probe of Deutsche Bank includes Kushner transactions: report

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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is conducting a criminal investigation of possible money laundering violations by Deutsche Bank, and the New York Times is reporting that the probe will include taking a look at some 2016 transactions involving Kushner Cos. — the business owned by the family of Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law.

In banking, reports of possibly suspicious activity are known as “suspicious activity reports,” and the DOJ is investigating why Deutsche Bank prepared such alerts for activity involving Kushner Cos. but did not file them. A key figure in the DOJ’s investigation is whistleblower Tammy McFadden, who helped prepare suspicious activity reports for Kushner Cos.-related transactions. McFadden is a former compliance officer for Deutsche Bank.

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