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FCC Holds Up Its Review of Merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable

U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) again held up its review of the proposed merger of Comcast Corp (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable Inc (NYSE: TWC) on Dec. 22, citing delays in getting related documents from Time Warner.

FCC said that the deal was estimated to be worth US$45 billion.

FCC said that its officials are studying if the merger is in the public interests, while the combination will come up with the giant cable company that may occupy the majority of the market in the U.S. It had self-imposed an informal 180-day countdown for the review and the process will be resumed on Jan. 12, 2015.

FCC said that Time Warner Cable has improperly withheld more than 7,000 documents that were requested by regulators, based on an “inappropriate claim of attorney-client privilege.” FCC learned that more than 31,000 requested documents were missing because of a vendor error.

Time Warner Cable, meanwhile, said that it had submitted the privileged documents in early December, but expected to deliver a revised “privilege log” sometime in mid-January.

FCC had requested Time Warner Cable to respond to its data request by Sept. 11.

In response to FCC reviewers’ concern of the delays, Time Warner Cable said that it would produce the missing documents on Dec. 22, but FCC said additional time would be needed to study new submissions.

FCC’s last pause of the review was carried out between Oct. 3 and Dec. 3, for Time Warner Cable to respond to a massive data request and then to deal with a dispute over confidentiality of documents related to agreements with media companies.

“Today’s delay is a procedural issue, not a substantive one,” Time Warner Cable Spokesman Bobby Amirshahi said in a statement. “We already have provided the FCC more than five million pages of documents and we will continue to provide the FCC everything that they need to review this transaction.”

In response, Comcast Spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice said that Comcast remained on track for the review to be concluded early in 2015.

“We are confident that any outstanding documents will be produced to the FCC in an expedited manner,” she said.

The merger was first publicly announced on Feb. 13. Comcast began the regulatory review process of the deal by filing a public interest statement at the FCC on April 8, and is in the process of obtaining permission from the FCC and U.S. Department of Justice to complete the acquisition. Comcast shareholders, meanwhile, have approved the proposed merger on Oct. 8, while Time Warner’s shareholders made the same decision on Oct. 9.