By Alina Selyukh
WASHINGTON Feb 20 Comcast Corp said
on Thursday it plans to submit documents on its proposed $45
billion takeover of Time Warner Cable Inc to U.S.
regulators by the end of March, when antitrust and public
interest reviews will be launched.
The proposed merger between the two biggest U.S. cable
service providers is expected to draw intense scrutiny from the
Federal Communications Commission, which reviews whether deals
are in the public interest, and either the Department of Justice
or the Federal Trade Commission, which share antitrust
The deal has drawn concern from consumer advocates and some
lawmakers who worry that the new company's size would give it
too much power to decide what Americans can watch on TV and do
Comcast is targeting the end of March to submit its
application to the FCC, spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice said.
Companies usually have 30 business days to file with the FCC
after a deal's announcement.
Around the same time, Comcast will also submit documents
asking antitrust regulators for approval, she said. The FTC and
Justice Department will then determine which agency will take
the lead on the review.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Justice Department antitrust
chief William Baer sent a rare public signal of skepticism
earlier this month on a potential deal between wireless carriers
Sprint Corp and T-Mobile US Inc. No deal has been
officially proposed yet between those companies.
On Thursday, Wheeler was asked whether he had similar
concerns about the proposed tie-up between Comcast and Time
"It was an interesting situation in that Sprint/T-Mobile
actually came to us and said: 'We're thinking about this, what
do you think about it?' Comcast never did," Wheeler said. "So
I'm in a position right now of sitting and waiting for Comcast
to file their requisite documents so that we can begin our
"We'll wait to give it a full, fair, open hearing," he
Comcast, which pledged upfront to several concessions that
federal regulators were likely to request, has maintained that
customers will benefit from the merger as services and
"All we can ask for is a full, fair, and open hearing - and
I think Chairman Wheeler's message is that is what we will get,"
Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen said on Thursday.
"In the broadband space and in the video space, we're not
depriving a single consumer in America of a choice that he or
she has today," Cohen told reporters after the deal was
announced last week.
The chief executive officer of DirecTV, which
competes against Comcast and Time Warner Cable in the pay TV
market, on Thursday urged careful regulatory scrutiny of their
proposed deal, saying it might create an "effective broadband
monopoly" in two-thirds of the United States.
Mike White, the DirectTV CEO, said his company, the nation's
largest satellite TV provider, was still determining what
position to take with regulators who will review the merger.