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FCC Clears AT&T Broadband, Comcast Merger

The commission cites potential benefits to high-speed Internet rollout.
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Comcast

(CMCSK)

received regulatory approval from the Federal Communications Commission to merge with

AT&T Broadband

Wednesday, creating the country's largest cable television company with a total customer base of roughly 27 million subscribers.

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The FCC voted 3 to 1 to allow the transaction, saying the marriage of the two companies would not adversely affect the consumer and would promote the rollout of high-speed Internet service. The FCC also ordered AT&T and Comcast to place Time Warner Entertainment into an irrevocable trust on the day the merger closes and fully divest themselves of any interest in Time Warner within the next five-and-a-half years. During this time, AT&T Comcast is barred from any involvement in Time Warner's video programming activities.

"In analyzing the public interest benefits, the FCC found that the merger is likely to spur new investment and to create synergies and efficiencies that will result in significant cost savings," the agency said in a release, adding "the merger will have a positive impact on the deployment of broadband services, which is an important FCC policy goal."

AT&T Chariman Michael Armstrong will initially be chairman of the new firm, although he recently announced plans to retire in the near future. Comcast president Brian Roberts will serve as chief executive. Comcast's shares closed down 75 cents, or 3.1%, to $23.30 on the Nasdaq, while

AT&T

(T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report

slipped 39 cents, or 2.8%, to $13.47 on the Big Board.