Regulators in the United States voted Tuesday to allow Comcast’s proposed merger with General Electric-owned NBC Universal, a deal which will give the cable and Internet giant a 51% stake in the broadcaster for $13.75 billion.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the joint venture in a 4-1 vote on nine conditions, namely that Comcast take steps to foster the growth of online video and to license NBCU programming content to its cable, satellite and Internet competitors. The conditions, created to address anti-trust concerns that Comcast would withhold content from its rivals, will remain in effect for seven years.
The Justice Department issued a statement Tuesday that said the proposed joint venture does not violate federal anti-trust rules. “The conditions imposed will maintain an open and fair marketplace while at the same time allow the innovative aspects of the transaction to go forward,” Christine Varney, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, said in a statement.
When the joint venture was announced a year ago, federal officials were concerned it would give Comcast less incentive to distribute NBCU programming to its video distribution competitors, causing a price hike for their customers. As part of the deal, Comcast must relinquish management of Hulu, the online video site that distributes content from NBC, Disney, Fox and ABC, so that it does not interfere with the development of products that compete with its own video services.