Varney, Genachowski to testify on NBC-Comcast merger



Other members of Congress seem to be most worried that consumers would have more limited access to popular NBC content if Comcast decides to put its shows behind an internet pay wall. Comcast has said it has no plans to do so and that it is committed to free over-the-air broadcasting.

At Thursday's hearing, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) may be a vocal critic of the deal. In the past, Dorgan has warned of the dangers of increased media consolidation.

In the previous Senate hearing on the merger, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) questioned Comcast about cable rates that continue to rise for consumers. She will likely take a similar line of questioning in Thursday's hearing.

Genachowski and Varney, whose agencies must sign off on the deal, will likely not be able to say much about their ongoing reviews. The FCC is evaluating whether the merger will harm the public interest in terms of diversity of content and cable and broadband prices. The DOJ is looking at any antitrust issues surrounding the deal.

Although they'll have to stay rather mum on the status of their reviews, Senators will take advantage of their last chance to voice concerns. It is the final scheduled congressional hearing on the merger.

Other witnesses scheduled to testify Thursday include John Wells, President of the Writers Guild of America and Christopher Yoo, law professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.