Minnesota senator Al Franken is doing what he can to throw a wrench into the merger between cable giant Comcast and NBC, the network he once called home during his years on Saturday Night Live. Yesterday, he asked the Justice Department to investigate whether or not Comcast violated anti-trust laws when it announced who would fill the top positions in the acquired company, even though the deal has yet to get DOJ approval.
In September, Comcast announced that its current Chief Operating Officer Steve Burke would take over the reins as CEO of NBC Universal. Burke has subsequently named people to several planned top spots, including Robert Greenblatt as Chairman of NBC Entertainment.
Sen. Franken wants the DOJ to investigate whether or not these actions constitute what’s known as “gun-jumping,” or illegal collaboration between pre-merger companies — a violation of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.
From the letter sent by Franken to the Attorney General’s office:
By publicly announcing their intended managers of each component of NBC Universal, Comcast has effectively told employees at NBC Universal who their ‘real bosses’ are… Comcast has every right to promote its business and this merger. It does not have the right to effect that merger absent explicit federal approval, or indirectly control or influence NBC Universal until that approval is granted.
You can read the whole letter [PDF] here.