Update: Comcast-NBC Universal draws concerns by lawmakers, consumer groups
We'll be updating the Comcast-NBC Universal merger story throughout the day.
Investors seem to like the deal, with shares of Comcast opening up 4 percent to $14.94.
Lawmakers sent statements after the announcement, calling for hearings on the deal to see if it could hurt consumers with higher prices and less diverse programming.
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), who heads the Antitrust and Competition Policy Subcommittee, said he will hold a congressional hearing to assess the merger's impact on diversity in programming and on how people access media content on the Web.
“This acquisition will create waves throughout the media and entertainment marketplace and we don’t know where the ripples will end," Kohl said in a release. "Antitrust regulators must ensure that all content providers are treated fairly on the Comcast platform, and that Comcast does not get undue advantages in gaining access to programming."
Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Commerce Committee, said he has "serious questions" about the deal.
“A joint venture of this magnitude would benefit from regulatory oversight. When major media companies swell to control both content and distribution, we need to make sure consumers are not left with lesser content and higher rates.”
The Federal Communications Commission, which will review the merger along with antitrust regulators, issued a brief statement saying it will give the deal a thorough review.
"“The FCC will carefully examine the proposed merger and will be thorough, fair, and fact-based in its review," said spokeswoman Jen Howard.
Consumer interest groups are warning that the deal could impact pricing of cable and Internet video programming for consumers and competitors to Comcast. They also warn the merger could lead to more media consolidation.
And because I always love a good graphic, here is Free Press's illustrative take on the nuts and bolts of the new joint venture:
December 3, 2009; 10:14 AM ET
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