Regulators approved Comcast Corp's purchase of a majority stake in NBC Universal with the requirement that NBC give up day-to-day control of popular online video site Hulu.
The Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice approved the deal more than a year after the companies announced it. When it closes, it will create a media powerhouse that will control not just how television shows and movies are made, but how they are delivered to people's homes.
Comcast, the largest U.S. cable company, is buying a 51 percent stake in NBC Universal from General Electric Co to create a $30 billion business that would include broadcast, cable networks, movie studios and theme parks.
We have adopted strong and fair merger conditions to ensure this transaction serves the public interest, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement after the vote on Tuesday. The FCC voted 4-1 in favor of the deal.
Approval had been expected for several weeks.
The FCC and the DOJ concluded that Comcast would have to make concessions, particularly in online video and program access.
Comcast must give up what the Justice Department described as management rights to Hulu, the online video site co-owned by News Corp, Walt Disney Co and NBC Universal.
While Comcast and NBC Universal could remain part owners of the site, they will relinquish voting rights and board representation.
Among other conditions, Comcast would have to ensure what the FCC called reasonable access to its programing for its competitors, and would be subject to an improved arbitration process to settle disputes.
Comcast also may not discriminate against programing that competes with its own offerings, the agency said.
FCC Commissioner Michael Copps objected to the merger, saying it would give Comcast too much power.
The potential for walled gardens, toll booths, content prioritization, access fees to reach end users and a stake in the heart of independent content production is now very real, Copps said in a statement.
(Reporting by Jasmin Melvin and Paul Thomasch. Editing by Dave Zimmerman and Robert MacMillan)