FCC Delays Comcast-Time Warner Cable Review Again as New Documents Found

Miffed Federal Communications Commission lawyers stopped the informal clock for reviewing Comcast's $45 billion deal to acquire Time Warner Cable after lawyers belatedly turned over thousands of documents the agency had previously requested.

Earlier this month, Time Warner Cable lawyers told the FCC that roughly 7,000 pages of documents the agency had asked for had been inadvertently withheld because of what the FCC is calling an "inappropriate claim of attorney-client privilege."

Last week, the agency was told an additional 31,000 documents also hadn't been turned over because of what Time Warner Cable called a "vendor error." The missing documents are expected to be sent to the agency next Tuesday.

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FCC lawyers complained that the newly disclosed documents will "slow down" the FCC's review "because sections of the review that staff had thought were complete now must be reopened to take account of the additional documents that have been disclosed."

The agency stopped its informal shot clock for considering the deal on Monday, saying it will restart on January 12. Since the FCC's 180-day clock isn't binding — and the agency has routinely blown through the deadline while considering other deals — it doesn't actually mean anything when the clock stops.

A Comcast truck at one of their centers in Pompano Beach, Florida.
Getty Images
A Comcast truck at one of their centers in Pompano Beach, Florida.

The agency had previously stopped the clock on the review after media companies raised concerns about having their programming contracts made available to outside lawyers involved in the FCC's review.

In a statement, a Comcast* spokeswoman said the company is "confident that any outstanding documents will be produced to the FCC in an expedited manner," and believes "we remain on track for the transaction review to be concluded early in 2015."

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CNBC's parent, NBC Universal, is an investor in Re/code's parent Revere Digital, and the companies have a content-sharing arrangement. *Comcast owns NBC Universal.