**Editor’s Note: Please click here for a recap of the biggest channel-impacting mergers in Q2 2014.**
Although the massive cable television merger was announced five months ago, the Federal Communications Commission only recently started its six-month review of Comcast’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable.
The FCC is in the early stages of its unofficial 180-day review of a deal that would bring together the nation’s two largest cable operators.
Last week, the agency set a timetable for public comments, responses and replies in connection with the merger. A July 10 notice triggered the review period in which the FCC seeks to determine in 180 days whether the agreement is in the public interest and should be approved.
The U.S. Justice Department also will review the deal to determine whether or not it runs afoul of antitrust laws. Comcast and Time Warner Cable contend the merger is not anticompetitive because they operate in different parts of the country.
“Our filings have shown that considerable consumer benefits occur because of this transaction and there’s no diminishment in competition,” a Comcast spokesman wrote in a blog, commenting on the FCC notice. “Of course, we fully expect a robust debate, and that’s what the FCC process is for.”
In the notice under MB Docket No. 14-57, the FCC also is seeking comment on requests by Comcast to divest certain assets to Charter Communications, which would result in a net reduction of roughly 3.9 million residential video customers for the merged Comcast/Time Warner Cable.
The FCC is seeking comments to the petitions by Aug. 25, responses to the comments to the petitions by Sept. 23, and replies by Oct. 8.
In April, Comcast announced an agreement to acquire Time Warner Cable’s shares, valuing the equity part of the agreement at $45.2 billion, and expanding Comcast’s subscriber base to approximately 30 million. Even after the agreement closes, Comcast will control less than 30 percent of the total number of multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) subscribers in the United States, according to the company.