It’s been five months since Comcast and Time Warner Cable first announced their intention to merge, but the regulatory gauntlet they need to get through first is just now ramping up. Earlier this week, the FCC announced the team doing the review, and now they’ve announced their timeline for taking comments on the matter.
The FCC’s whole announcement is a 30-page PDF, but the most important part is the three key dates listed right up front. Those dates define the process for hearing the whole back-and-forth from the public, including individuals, businesses, and advocacy groups who support or oppose the merger. Those dates are:
- August 25: The first round of comments are due
- September 23: Replies/oppositions to comments due
- October 8: Replies to oppositions due
This means that the public now has six weeks left officially to register its opinion on the Comcast and TWC merger with the FCC. Since over half the country is opposed to the merger, there’s potential for a whole lot of opinion to be registered.
So far about 18,000 people and organizations have commented on the merger. If you’re interested in adding to that total, it’s pretty straightforward to do.
We wrote a how-to guide for leaving comments with the FCC on its proposed net neutrality rule, and the process for commenting on the Comcast merger is the same. The short version is:
- Go to the Electronic Comment Filing System and look for docket 14-57 (or click here).
- Fill out the form with the required information and your comment.
Just remember: your comment should address two key questions. One: Why is this issue important to you — in what specific way would a certain outcome help or hurt? And two: What would you like the agency you’re contacting to do about it?
And of course, also remember that public means public. Anyone can browse the comments that are submitted to the docket.
The FCC’s published timeline also gives us a sense of how long we can expect the review process to be. The final deadline in the comment and response period is October 8, a Wednesday. The commission will have to take a few weeks after that deadline in order to review everything that came in, meaning that there’s basically no way the FCC would be ready to approve or deny the merger before November 1.
But as we’ve seen in the past five months, the wheels of government do not turn quickly and there are other things going on in Washington and the FCC at the same time. Not only are they busy with the net neutrality process, but also there’s a national midterm election on November 4, which tends to make the political world hold its metaphorical breath for a time. That makes it seem more likely that an official decision will come later in November or December, if we get it in 2014 at all.