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Verizon Wireless and the nation's leading cable operators said they will reformat certain documents they have filed with the Federal Communications Commission to avoid a stoppage of the agency's informal, 180-day “shot clock” for reviewing the companies' $3.6 billion spectrum purchase deals.
The Communications Workers of America on April 20 had asked the FCC to halt the clock, saying that Verizon and the cable carriers were “obstructing review of the deal by delaying the delivery of documents, providing documents with large segments redacted, delivering materials in unreadable file formats, hiding data behind various proprietary file formats, and burying relevant information in--literally--hundreds of thousands of documents.”
In a joint filing with the commission April 30, Verizon and the cable companies said they would make documents available for review in PDF format and also create a sortable electronic index.
Responding to the CWA's arguments, the companies said that they have already “complied with the technical and formatting specifications contained in the commission's instructions…and have fully satisfied their obligations to make documents available to third parties pursuant to protective orders in this proceeding.”
However, the companies added, they have “expressed a willingness to take certain additional steps to facilitate third-party review of the materials by Protective Order signatories,” their attorneys wrote in the filing.
Verizon announced in December that it had agreed to buy spectrum from Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc., Bright House Networks, and Cox Communications. As part of the transaction, Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, and Bright House cable services all will be sold through Verizon Wireless stores in those companies' service territories, while the cable providers will cross-promote Verizon Wireless services through their call centers and websites. After four years, the cable carriers will have the option of selling Verizon Wireless service under their own corporate names, creating a true “quadruple play” of wireless, cable TV, landline phone, and home internet services.
Among other concerns, the move has raised questions about whether Verizon's FiOS TV service will be a serious competitor to cable.
The documents are especially critical to the case, as such a joint-marketing arrangement is a first of its kind in the telecommunications market.
CWA further detailed its concerns about Verizon's and the cable companies' document production in an ex parte filing April 30.
To view the filings, visit http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/proceeding/view?name=12-4.
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