Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who has called on federal regulators to block the deal, Thursday blasted FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's order that calls for approving Comcast's merger with NBC Universal with certain conditions.
In a statement, Sanders called on the FCC to "reverse course" and block the deal. Senior FCC officials revealed Thursday that Genachowski has begun circulating among the agency's four other commissioners an order that recommends approving the deal with certain conditions related to such areas as program access, program carriage and online distribution of content.
The officials, however, provided few details about the conditions related to these areas. Sanders said no conditions would mollify his concerns with the merger, saying the deal does not meet the FCC's required threshold of serving the "public interest."
"If this merger is approved, I have little doubt that Comcast-NBCU will retain hundreds of attorneys and lobbyists to exploit gaps and loopholes in any conditions and regulations," he said in a statement. "Once we allow companies to become this powerful, the FCC does not regulate them. They regulate the FCC."
Consumers Union also called on the commission to reject the merger, but said if it does move forward it must adopt strong, enforceable conditions.
"It's hard to imagine how a cable giant like Comcast owning a content empire like NBC Universal could be a plus for consumers' pocketbooks and competition," Consumers Union Policy Counsel Parul Desai said in a statement. "The FCC appears to have identified the right areas of concern, including program and online access to content, but the devil is in the details."