The DOJ’s Antitrust Division notified Comcast that it intends to continue monitoring how the company handles its TV programming and distribution, even after the consent decree expires on Sept. 1, according to a letter obtained by Bloomberg News.
Comcast won regulatory approval for its acquisition of NBC in 2011 after completing an arduous 13-month review with the Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department. Regulators imposed a range of conditions designed to protect competition, particularly in the emerging online video space.
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Among the restrictions imposed on Comcast was that it relinquish management of its minority stake in Hulu, which it jointly owns with Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox and AT&T.
“The department retains jurisdiction to enforce the antitrust laws and takes its obligations seriously,” Makan Delrahim, head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, wrote in the letter obtained by Bloomberg. “We would appreciate your cooperation in keeping us informed by providing the department with any plans you may have to change your policies or practices involving video programming and distribution.”
Neither the Justice Department nor Comcast responded to Deadline’s request for comment.
Delrahim criticized settlements like the one that cleared the way for Comcast’s takeover of NBCUniversal, precisely because of the demands for open-ended monitoring by regulators.
It’s one reason the DOJ argued, unsuccessfully, that AT&T should be forced to divest some of its media assets as a condition of acquiring Time-Warner. The DOJ has appealed the federal district court’s ruling in the antitrust case.
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