Senator Al Franken (D-Minn) has asked the Department of Justice to investigate the proposed Comcast-NBC Universal deal.
In a letter sent to Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney, Franken said he would like to see if Comcast has complied with two federal antitrust laws. Franken's problem with the deal lies in Comcast's plans for a restructuring of the leadership at NBC Universal.
According to Franken's letter, Comcast chief operating officer Steve Burke has already announced 43 people to various positions within the forthcoming NBC Universal. Since the merger between Comcast and NBC Universal has yet to be approved, Franken says Comcast is trying to indirectly exert managerial and operational control over NBC Universal.
He added, Comcast may be trying to purposefully or inadvertently trigger the exchange of competitively sensitive information between the companies beyond what is permissible. This gun-jumping, Franken says could be in violation of antitrust laws.
Sen. Franken has been concerned about the potential impact the Comcast NBC Universal merger would have on consumers since the deal was announced in 2009. His deepest concern is that the resulting company would have unprecedented control over how we get our information-not to mention our cable bills would go up. Sen. Franken has been a vigilant watchdog over the merger proceedings and has urged that his colleagues stand up for consumer rights and oppose the deal, said Ed Shelleby, Sen. Franken's press secretary, in an emailed statement.
In an emailed statement, Comcast sais, Transition and integration planning is common, proper, and expected in a transaction of this type. Post-closing management teams are regularly announced prior to antitrust approval. NBC Universal has remained in total control of all decision making to date, Comcast has had no role in NBC Universal business operations. At every step of the way, this process has been supervised by counsel to ensure faithful adherence to the rules, and that will continue.