FCC Approves Comcast-NBCU Merger

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The Federal Communications Commission has approved Comcast's ( CMCSA) plans to acquire NBC Universal from General Electric ( GE).

"The commission has determined that granting the application, with certain conditions and contingent upon enforceable commitments, is in the public interest," the FCC said in a statement released today.

In a 4 to 1 vote, the FCC determined the merger is in the nation's public interest. Several regulatory conditions have been assigned to the venture in order to ensure fairness to the Comcast's competitors and customers.

Through the deal, the FCC is requiring Comcast to take "affirmative steps to foster competition in the video marketplace."

The Comcast-NBCU venture will be required to increase its local news coverage offerings, add to its programming for children, offer more diverse programming, provide broadband services to low-income Americans at lowered monthly prices and provide schools, libraries and underserved communities with high-speed broadband connections.

Democratic FCC commissioner Michael Copps cast the dissenting vote on worries that the joint venture "confers too much power in one company's hands."

Last month FCC chairman Julius Genachowski suggested a set of regulatory conditions on the pending merger to guarantee that the cable company won't be able to monopolize competition in the video market once it gains control of NBC.

"The conditions include carefully considered steps to ensure that competition drives innovation in the emerging online video marketplace," Genachowski said in a statement today.

The U.S. Department of Justice is expected to approve the deal later today. The merger will mark the first time that a cable provider will have control of a broadcast network.

Through the deal, which was announced over a year ago, Comcast will gain a 51% stake in NBCU from General Electric.

-- Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.

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