Concerned over the Obama administration’s antitrust settlement that allowed the Comcast/NBCU merger, a federal judge yesterday threatened to delay final court approval.
Even though the deal was completed in January, the merger settlement between both media companies and the Justice Department is subject to review by a federal court. According to the Wall Street Journal, this is usually a routine part of the merger process, but a federal judge has the power to undo an agreement or force changes to it. If the judge should refuse to sign off on the settlement, the Justice Department could appeal or the parties could renegotiate the settlement.
Federal Judge Richard Leon, in federal court for the District of Columbia, expressed concern about the arbitration terms available to online-content companies that disagree with Comcast about program licensing, pointing out that the arbitration agreements can’t be appealed.
“I’m giving you fair notice I’m not sure I’m going to sign this,” Judge Leon said. “My concerns are such that because of the arbitration it’s not in the public interest.”