Television

FCC clears Comcast buyout of AT&T Broadband

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MUMBAI: In a 3-1 vote (the dissenting vote coming from the lone Democrat on the panel, Michael Copps), the US Federal Communications Commission today cleared the way for the $30.2 billion buyout of AT&T Broadband by rival Comcast Corp.

The merger reportedly creates a pay TV giant with over 27 million subscribers.

The US Justice Department has also approved the deal that will create a new company called AT&T Comcast Corp. 

The approval for the merger has not been without its critics though. Consumer groups have lambasted the seeming double standards shown by the FCC in approving the Comcast deal after rejecting EchoStar Communications Corp.'s proposed acquisition of DirecTV. Many consumer advocates had backed the satellite-television merger, which they said would create a strong national competitor to the cable monopolies.

The FCC's only major condition for approval has been the stipulation that the new company AT&T Comcast Corp divest entirely its 25 per cent stake in Time Warner Entertainment. Earlier this year, AOL Time Warner said it would effectively buy AT&T's stake in the partnership for around $9 billion in cash and securities. That deal will give AOL Time Warner full ownership of the Warner Bros. film studio and Home Box Office, along with most of Time Warner Cable.

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