FCC resumes shot clock on merger deals

Regulators have resumed their informal shot clock on a pair of multi-billion dollar media mergers.

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 180-day timeline for reviewing Comcast’s $45 billion planned merger with Time Warner Cable and AT&T’s $49 billion deal to buy DirecTV has been paused for more than a month, due to a dispute over the treatment of secret business documents. 

Last month, a court sided against the FCC, ruling that television companies such as Walt Disney and Viacom that do business with the cable firms do not have to show their confidential business details to the public.

In the meantime, the court said, the FCC can continue reviewing the terms of the two mergers.  

The clock for the AT&T-DirecTV deal is on day 70 of the 180-day cycle, the FCC said

The Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal is on day 85.

In a blog post, Comcast said that it would work with FCC officials with the goal of finalizing the review in the first three months of next year.

The news comes on the same day that Dish Network, The BlazeTV and a number of advocacy organizations joined forces to block the Comcast deal, which they say would be bad for consumers.

Comcast on Wednesday defended its proposal by pointing to a wide number of backers and claiming that the deal will lead to “better service, faster speeds, and a diverse choice of programming.” 

In addition to the FCC, the Justice Department is also evaluating the two mergers to see if they pass muster under antitrust law.