Comcast/NBCU Venture Will Proceed As Court Follows Tunney Act to Enter Decree

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A proposed joint venture between Comcast Corp. and General Electric Co.'s subsidiary NBC Universal, Inc., which had been the target of an action by the Justice Department and five state attorneys general, will proceed, as the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia enters final judgment pursuant to the Tunney Act (U.S. v. Comcast Corp., D.D.C., No. 1:11-cv-00106-RJL, 9/1/11).

DOJ and the states challenged the transaction under Section 7 of the Clayton Act on the ground that the transaction would allow Comcast to limit competition from its cable, satellite, telephone, and online competitors. Under a February 2011 stipulation and order, the defendants agreed to abide by provisions of a proposed final judgment that would allow the deal to proceed while addressing concerns regarding allegedly anticompetitive behavior.

District Judge Richard J. Leon added conditions to the grant of DOJ's motion to enter final judgment. For no less than two years, the parties are required to create and maintain a report detailing the involvement of online video distributors (OVDs) in arbitration, and the results thereof. The parties are further ordered to convene for an annual hearing to explain that report and address any other non-arbitration-related issues that may arise.

Counsel for plaintiff DOJ: Hillary B. Burchuk and Yvette F. Tarlov, DOJ, Washington, D.C.; counsel for plaintiff California: Jonathan Michael Eisenberg, California Attorney General's Office, Los Angeles, Cal.; counsel for plaintiff Florida: Eli Andrew Friedman, Florida Attorney General's Office, Tallahassee, Fla.; counsel for plaintiff Washington: David M. Kerwin, Washington Attorney General's Office, Seattle, Wash.; counsel for plaintiff Texas: John Thomas Prud'homme, Jr., Texas Attorney General's Office, Austin, Tex.; counsel for plaintiff Missouri: Anne E. Schneider, Missouri Attorney General's Office, Jefferson City, Mo.; counsel for defendants General Electric and NBC: William Joseph Baer, Deborah L. Feinstein, and Justin P. Hedge, Arnold & Porter LLP, Washington, D.C.; counsel for defendant Comcast: Michael Norman Sohn, Davis, Polk & Wardwell, Washington, D.C.; Arthur Joseph Burke, Davis, Polk & Wardwell, New York, N.Y.; Kathryn Marie Fenton, and Joe Sims, Jones Day, Washington, D.C.

By Tiffany Friesen Milone