(Adds opposition group)
By Alina Selyukh
WASHINGTON Dec 3 U.S. Federal Communications
Commission on Wednesday restarted its informal 180-day countdown
to review the proposed mergers between Comcast Corp
and Time Warner Cable Inc, and AT&T Inc and
The FCC's self-imposed, non-binding "shot clock" will
restart at Day 70 for the AT&T-DirecTV merger and Day 85 for the
Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, the agency said.
The agency had paused the clock on the reviews as it figured
out how to properly consider and allow the public to review
sensitive documents related to agreements with media companies.
The FCC will now restart its collection of public comments
on various aspects of the merger, allowing some reviewers to
access highly confidential information that is not related to
video programming agreements.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
Circuit, at the request of numerous content companies, is
weighing how the FCC should handle the confidential materials
related to programming agreements.
Once the court rules, the FCC indicated it may further reset
or delay the deadline to ensure enough time for outside parties
to comment and for the agency to properly consider those
The country's biggest cable company Comcast has bid $45
billion for the No. 2 Time Warner Cable, while second-largest
wireless provider AT&T has bid $48.5 billion to buy biggest
satellite TV provider DirecTV.
The FCC has to determine whether the deals are in the public
interest. It is reviewing the mergers alongside the Justice
Department, whose antitrust review also includes sensitive
programming documents but is confidential.
A group of critics of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger
on Wednesday announced a coalition to press regulators to block
the transaction. The "Stop Mega-Comcast" coalition includes
satellite company Dish Network Corp, consumer advocacy
group Public Knowledge and TheBlaze, conservative commentator
Glenn Beck's media company.
Critics say the merger would create a cable and Internet
provider that would have too much control over what Americans
watch on TV and their web activity, among other things.
Comcast has stressed that it does not compete against Time
Warner Cable in any market and that, together, they would offer
better services to more consumers.
(Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and