The sticking point, in both instances, involves a dispute over how much information about the video providers’ contracts with programmers the FCC can share with outsiders. CBS, Scripps Networks, Disney, Time Warner, Fox, Univision and Viacom are among the companies that don’t want potential critics of the deals to see their arrangements with the distributors, now on file at the agency. The FCC decided that it needs to hear informed views from all sides and would make sure that the details remain confidential.
Programmers asked the U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn the FCC on the matter. The court heard the case on February 20 but has yet to rule.
As a result, the FCC says it would be “prudent” to pause the 180-day countdown because “the Commission would be advantaged by knowing the resolution” of the case before the time periods run out at the end of March. This is Day 165 for Comcast and 170 for AT&T.Comcast says no worries. The FCC “appears to be making significant progress in the review of our transaction in order to bring it to a conclusion,” VP Sena Fitzmaurice says. “The comment cycle is complete, the economists have all weighed in, and the parties have responded to all of the FCC’s Requests for Information. We look forward to working with the government to complete the regulatory review process.”