FCC stops 180-day transaction clocks on merger reviews

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has stopped the informal review period to consider the Comcast-Time Warner Cable and AT&T-DirecTV mergers, in order to enable a federal appeals court time to rule on a challenge related to those deals.

"At this time, we believe it is prudent to pause the informal 180-day transaction clocks because the Commission would be advantaged by knowing the resolution of the pending Petition for Review before the transaction clocks reach the 180-day mark," which were both slated to finish by the end of March, said the FCC.

"In reaching this conclusion, the Commission reserves the right to restart the clock as it believes will best serve the public interest and it intends to provide further guidance as it becomes appropriate."

In a statement Comcast said, "We understand the FCC's decision to pause the informal review clock while the court continues to review a procedural matter related to the transaction. That case is under expedited review, oral argument occurred in late February, and a decision is expected shortly.

"In the meantime, the FCC appears to be making significant progress in the review of our transaction in order to bring it to a conclusion.

"The comment cycle is complete, the economists have all weighed in, and the parties have responded to all of the FCC's Requests for Information. We look forward to working with the government to complete the regulatory review process," the Comcast statement added.

AT&T also issued a statement, saying, "We anticipate the issues surrounding the litigation between the FCC and the programmers to be resolved quickly so the FCC can complete its review of our transaction. We continue to look forward to closing our deal in the first half of the year."

Both merger reviews had been expected to be completed this month.