Comcast executives may think that they made all the right contributions, lobbied all the right players and greased all the right wheels to get control of NBC.
But the controversial merger has yet to be approved.
So when Comcast announced a new management team for NBC Universal, it sure looked to Minnesota Senator Al Franken as if the cable company was making an illegal attempt to exert control over its takeover target before regulators had completed a required antitrust review.
Franken, who (with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders) has emerged as the Senate’s steadiest watchdog with regard to the Comcast/NBC deal, is calling foul.
The Minnesota Democrat is asking Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Christine Varney to open an investigation of Comcast’s manipulations.
"The Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission have yet to complete their review of the proposed Comcast and NBC Universal merger," Franken explained in his letter. "And yet, by publicly announcing their intended managers of each component of NBC Universal, Comcast has effectively told employees at NBC Universal who their ‘real bosses’ are."
The former NBC Saturday Night Live personality notes that: "Comcast has every right to promote its business and this merger." But, he argues, the company "does not have the right to effect that merger absent explicit federal approval, or indirectly control or influence NBC Universal until that approval is granted. I urge you to investigate this conduct."
Read Franken’s full letter here.
And here is Sanders calling on the FCC to block the merger.
Says Sanders: "At a time when a small number of giant media corporations already control what the American people see, hear, and read, we need more media diversity, more local control, more points of view—not more media concentration."