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U.S. approves Comcast-NBC merger

By Kristen Hamill, CNN

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice on Tuesday approved -- with several conditions -- a merger of the country's largest cable operator, Comcast, and broadcasting company NBC Universal.

The FCC voted 4-1 in favor of the deal.

"After a thorough review, we have adopted strong and fair merger conditions to ensure this transaction serves the public interest," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement.

The FCC said the Comcast-NBC Universal combination will be required to take steps to increase competition in the video marketplace. In addition, Comcast (CMCSA, Fortune 500) has committed to expanding local news coverage, expand programs for Spanish-speaking viewers and offer Internet access to schools and libraries.

The lone dissenter, Commissioner Michael Copps, expressed concern that the merger will limit communications choices and drive up costs to consumers.

"At the end of the day, the public interest requires more -- much more -- than it is receiving," Copps said in a statement.

Comcast also agreed to cease its management of the News Corp., (NWS, Fortune 500) NBC Universal, and Disney (DIS, Fortune 500)-owned video sharing site Hulu - though Comcast and NBC Universal can still maintain a financial stake in the site.

Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney said the move was essential so that, "Comcast cannot use NBCU's partial ownership of Hulu to diminish its competitive significance."

Varney added that she's confident in the settlement. "The conditions imposed will maintain an open and fair marketplace while at the same time allow the innovative aspects of the transaction to go forward," she said in a statement.

The merger should be complete by the end of January and the new venture will be managed by Comcast, according to a joint press release from both Comcast and NBCU. Comcast will own 51% of the company, NBC Universal will own 49%, the press release said.

Comcast CEO and Chairman Brian L. Roberts said the company was "proud" and "excited" about today's FCC decision.

GE (GE, Fortune 500) Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said in a statement that he was confident that NBCU would be in "good hands" under Comcast's leadership. To top of page

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