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Comcast says NBC Universal deal won't close until 2011

The cable giant says its plan to acquire control of GE's film and television division is still awaiting regulatory approvals from the FCC and Justice Department.

December 23, 2010|By Joe Flint, Los Angeles Times

NBC Universal won't be ringing in the new year as part of the Comcast Corp. family.

The cable giant confirmed Wednesday that despite earlier hopes the purchase would close this year, its proposed deal to acquire control of General Electric Co.'s film and television division won't get through regulatory review and be finished until 2011.

In a statement, Comcast said although the cable company believes the Federal Communications Commission and U.S. Justice Department continue to make "substantial process toward approval of our transaction ... it now appears that we will not be able to close the transaction with GE relating to NBC Universal by year-end."

Comcast, which struck the $30-billion deal with GE for a controlling stake in NBC Universal in December 2009, had been pushing to get the merger reviewed and finalized by lawmakers and regulators sooner.

Anticipating that it will be approved, the company already has announced its executive team for NBC Universal. Comcast Chief Operating Officer Steve Burke will become chief executive of NBC Universal with oversight over all operations. Current NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker and NBC Universal Television Entertainment Chairman Jeff Gaspin already have announced they will leave when the deal closes.

The FCC and Justice Department are reviewing the Comcast-NBC Universal deal and focusing heavily on whether the combination of Comcast's cable and broadband business with NBC's content will give the new entity an unfair advantage over rivals, particularly for video distributed on the Internet.

Comcast and NBC Universal already had indicated a few weeks ago that they had doubts the deal would close in 2010 when they extended the master agreement for the merger with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

joe.flint@latimes.com

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