Comcast-NBC: Why is the FCC Involved?

James Gattuso /

Bidding has begun on Comcast’s acquisition of a majority stake in NBC Universal. No, not the bidding between GE and Comcast over the terms of the sale. That was the comparatively easy part. The real bidding is over at the FCC, as various interests work to get concessions and pledges from Comcast as a condition of FCC approval of the deal. The jostling may put post-Thanksgiving Black Friday sales to shame. Everything from more kid’s shows to broadband open access mandates are potentially on the table.

And that’s if the sale is approved by the FCC at all. Groups such as Free Press called for its rejection as soon as it was announced. Commissioner Michael Copps underscored the alpine nature of the approval process, stating bluntly that the deal “faces a very steep climb with me.”

Amidst the din, however, one question has been drowned out: Why is the FCC involved in this at all?