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Posted at 5:26 PM ET, 11/22/2010

Sen. Franken urges Justice to investigate Comcast antitrust violation

By Cecilia Kang

al_franken_senate.jpgWith its merger still under federal review, Comcast last week announced its new executive lineup for NBC Universal. And that, according to Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), might have violated antitrust laws.

Franken on Monday urged Justice's head of antitrust, Christine Varney, to investigate whether Comcast's appointment of 43 individuals to various positions at NBC Universal was "gun-jumping" and violated the "spirit of federal antitrust law."

"By announcing the future leadership of NBC Universal well in advance of federal approval, Comcast may be seeking to indirectly exert managerial and operational control of that company," Franken wrote. "Moreover, in doing so, Comcast may purposefully or inadvertently trigger the exchange of competitively sensitive information between the companies, beyond what is customarily permissible in premerger settings."

Comcast CEO Steve Burke last week named Robert Greenblatt to be chairman of NBC Entertainment and Bonnie Hammer was named chair of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios. Lauren Zalaznick was appointed chair of NBC Universal entertainment and digital networks and integrated media.

Comcast spokeswoman FCC defended the company's decision on NBC Universal executives.

“Transition and integration planning is common, proper, and expected in a transaction of this type," said Sena Fitzmaurice, a spokeswoman for Comcast. "NBC Universal has remained in total control of all decision making to date, Comcast has had no role in NBC Universal business operations.”

Justice and the Federal Communications Commission is expected to be nearing the end of their federal reviews of the proposed mega media merger. Sources familiar with the reviews say the agencies could impose conditions on the merger that require Comcast to share NBC content with Internet TV providers.

The FCC's 180-day review process wraps up within days, but observers say the "shot clock" isn't a hard deadline but more of a goal.

Related stories:
Internet TV Battles come to head at FCC

The battle for your TV viewing habits

Regulators eye program access conditions in Comcast-NBC merger

By Cecilia Kang  | November 22, 2010; 5:26 PM ET
Categories:  Antitrust, Comcast, DOJ, FCC, Online Video  
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Comments

Sen. Franken is right we should investigating Comcast. I work for Comcast and they are against front line employees joining a labor unions. First, Comcast tried to throw other departments on to petition to vote that didn't want to be represented by a labor union. So, three brave individuals including my-self. Went to the NLRB hearing for the disputed bargaining unit. We discredited Comcast's management's misrepresentations of how the departments that they wanted on the bargaining unit had a common interest. The NLRB realized and ruled the departments that didn't want to be represented by a labor union didn't have a common interest for the bargaining unit and were left off it. I feel if the deal with NBC UNIVERSAL goes through all the union employees will be targeted by Comcast to decertify just like what happened when they took over AT&T Broadband. Support Comcast Workers and go to www.comcastworkers.com and see what is happening to Comcast workers all over the United States.

Sincerely,

Tyler C.

Posted by: Tyler_Christenson | November 23, 2010 2:33 AM | Report abuse

THANK YOU FOR YOUR HARD WORK!
KEEP UP THE FIGHT FOR REAL AMERICANS!

The years-long Republican jihad against hard-workign citizens, fought for the enrichment of their corporate masters, must be defeated!

Posted by: lquarton | November 23, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

I work for NBC. I am member of the NABET labor union. We have not had a contract for over 2.5 years. That means no raise for 2.5 years, and other things. NABET handles the technical engineering and the operations’ side of the business. Comcast plans on BUSTING our union. NBC / GE hates unions and Comcast hates them even more. This deal should be delayed until NABET gets a contract. Comcast is not bad, but the NBC employees must be protected!!

Posted by: tom898 | November 24, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

As a 30+ year member of the IBEW I have to ask why the federal gov't has not stepped in to do their part required by law to see to it that both sides involved in the mentioned contract dispute negotiate in good faith? From where I'm sitting and from my own personal experience, under federal law both parties negotiating are required to "negotiate in good faith". The federal gov't has stepped in in other disputes in the past. WHY HAVE THEY NOT INVOLVED THEMSELVES NOW TO SEE TO IT THAT THE EMPLOYEES RIGHT TO BELONG TO A UNION IS NOT VIOLATED AS SEEMS TO BE THE CASE HERE? SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES, I.E. BUSH ADMINISTRATION TACTICS, TO SEE TO IT THAT THE BIG WHEELS GET ALL THE MONEY WHILE THOSE THAT EARN IT ARE IGNORED.

Posted by: bcreek1 | November 27, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

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