FCC Releases Agenda for Chicago Forum on Comcast-NBCU Merger

WASHINGTON: The FCC’s Media Bureau today announced the agenda for its July 13 public forum to be held in Chicago. The event will be held at the Northwestern University Law School Thorne Auditorium from 1 to 8 p.m. local time. Two panels will discuss Comcast’s proposed majority takeover of NBC Universal.

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps will open the event. He’ll be followed by the first panel covering online video distribution. Panelists will include John Flynn, FCC senior counsel to the chairman for transactions; Jeffrey Blum, deputy general counsel for Dish Network; Susan Crawford, professor at Cardozo Law School, and visiting research collaborator at Princeton University; Markham C. Erickson, partner at Holch & Erickson LLP, and executive director of NetCoalition; Travis Parsons, senior director of business development for Sezmi; Josh Silver, president and CEO of Free Press; Scott Wallsten, vice president for research and senior fellow for the Technology Policy Institute; and Susan Whiting, vice chair of The Nielsen Co.

The second panel will consider cable and satellite distribution. William Lake, chief of the FCC’s Media Bureau will moderate. Panelists include Colleen Abdoulah, president and CEO of WOW! Internet, Cable and Phone; Tyrone Brown, president of the Media Access Project; Brian Lawlor, president-chairman of NBC Television Affiliates and senior vice president of Television for The E.W. Scripps Co.; William Rogerson, professor of economics at Northwestern University; Ken Solomon, chairman & CEO of The Tennis Channel and James Speta, professor at the Northwestern University School of Law

The event is open to the public. Audience members will have the chance to ask questions during an open mic segment from 6-8 p.m. Individuals wishing to comment must sign up at the registration desk beginning at 5 p.m. Slots will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. The forum also will be carried live over the Internet on the FCC’s Live Web page. Questions can be submitted via e-mail to livequestions@fcc.govand via Twitter using the hash tag, #fccNBC.

Comcast first proposed to take a majority stake in NBCU last December. The FCC gives itself 180 days to make a determination on such deals, but it’s been stopped twice for the Comcast-NBCU deal. The shot clock was stopped April 16-June 3 to extend the opportunity for public comments, and again as of June 11 to give both companies more time to provide requested information. That information has now been submitted and the shot clock should be restarted, according to John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable.