* FCC extends review clock by 21 days
* Says due to delayed responses from Verizon, cable companies
* Rejects calls to stop clock over unreadable file formats
* Verizon says extension still keeps review process on track
By Jasmin Melvin
WASHINGTON, May 1 (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Communications Commission said on Tuesday it would extend its review of proposed multibillion- dollar airwaves deals between Verizon Wireless and several cable operators to account for filing delays.
The FCC said it would add 21 days to what is typically a 180-day review because Verizon Wireless and the cable operators failed to meet filing deadlines for additional information the agency requested.
The agency is on the 103rd day of its review of Verizon Wireless’s plan to buy about $3.9 billion worth of wireless airwaves from cable companies including Comcast Corp and Time Warner Cable Inc.
The cable operators would be allowed to resell Verizon’s mobile service as part of the deals.
“This brief extension keeps the review process moving and on track, and provides additional time for parties to review the submitted documents,” said Verizon spokesman Ed McFadden.
He added that Verizon Wireless strongly believes the deals are in the public interest, and the company has worked to ensure the FCC has the data it needs in the appropriate formats.
Verizon rivals Sprint Nextel Corp, Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS Communications , have all complained to the FCC about the bigger company’s cable deal on concerns that it would give too much market power to the already dominant company.
Other opponents have argued the deals would create allies out of former rivals, to the detriment of consumers.
Separately, Verizon and the cable operators agreed to make it easier for other stakeholders to view documents they had sent to the FCC, according to an ex parte letter filed to the FCC on Monday.
The Communications Workers of America, Sprint, DirecTV and others had asked the FCC to stop the clock on its review because the documents included large redacted segments and were in difficult-to-read formats.
Rather than stop the clock, the FCC said it believed the steps taken by Verizon and the cable operators would address concerns over access to transaction documents.