Came across a press release issued by the National Coalition of African American Owned Media back on January 15. You know, Dr. King’s birthday. You figure that given the shooting in Tucson and Dr. King’s birthday that advocacy groups of all stripes would call a cease fire. But to steal a phrase from my favorite rap group, Run-DMC, it was a dream. I mean after all, we are talking about Washington.
Anyway, the NCAAOM has taken issue with the Federal Communications Commission preparing to bless the joint venture between Comcast and NBC Universal before it has even filed its triennial section 257 report. This report is supposed to give Congress the 411 on the FCC’s efforts to remove barriers to entry that are impeding access by entrepreneurs and small businesses to the telecommunications and information services markets.
Well, I decided to read the section, hoping that it was not long and drawn out like a Clarence Thomas opinion. I looked for language that says that the triennial report must be filed before Comcast’s merger with NBC Universal. I didn’t see it.
I looked for language that says the report must be filed before any merger. I didn’t see it.
What I did see was what the judicial warrior types call a “chilling effect.” Imagine the chilling effect on competition and market synergies if a triennial report were required to be filed prior to every and any merger. For us FCC watchers we know how slow the FCC is. Heck. They are over a year overdue on their 2009 triennial report.
Just imagine if two companies needed a deal to go through and that this deal would help one of the companies avoid bankruptcy, ensure the flow of services to consumers, and make investors whole. Could you imagine the market disruption if the transaction were delayed because the FCC has to file a triennial report? It would mean that any and all mergers would have to be initiated and completed very close to the release of a report before the findings of the report got stale and inapplicable to the conditions facing the two companies.
Sounds to me that NCAAOM’s agenda entails a whole lot more than looking out for a diversity of minority media voices.
Oh well, let me shut up before my five readers compliment me by saying I sound like Scalia.