Lawmakers say they'll scrutinize Comcast-NBC deal, schedule hearings

The proposed Comcast-NBC Universal merger (see earlier post) will be getting some tough scrutiny by the federal government.

Key lawmakers and regulators say they will review the deal in detail to ensure it does not harm the industry or consumers.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Commerce Committee, said the agreement "has the potential to reshape the media marketplace."

"This proposal raises questions regarding diversity, competition, and the future of the production and distribution of video content across broadcasting, cable, online, and mobile platforms," he said in a statement. "It is imperative that the FCC, the Justice Department, and the FTC rigorously assess whether this transaction is in the public interest."

He said he will work with Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, to schedule hearings as soon as possible.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, said the Comcast-NBC deal "is extremely significant in scope and raises some complex questions."

"My subcommittee will monitor that process closely to ensure that any legitimate anticompetitive and public interest concerns are fully addressed.”

The FCC has not indicated its position on the deal.

Jen Howard, spokeswoman for FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, said only that "the FCC will carefully examine the proposed merger and will be thorough, fair, and fact-based in its review.”