The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that it has paused its informal ‘shot-clock’ deadlines relating to the reviews of two separate high-profile takeover deals. The long-standing transactions currently under review by the regulator are, AT&T Inc’s proposed USD48.5 billion takeover of pay-TV giant DirecTV and Comcast’s USD45 billion takeover of fellow cableco Time Warner Cable (TWC).
In confirming the news, the FCC noted that it has ‘entered protective orders in these proceedings, generally permitting outside counsel and outside experts employed by the various participants to review, solely in connection with their participation, confidential information that has been filed in the respective records. Specifically, the protective orders provide for the review of information defined as Confidential Information and Highly Confidential Information, including Video Programming Confidential Information (VPCI).’
The shot-clocks on both transactions are currently slated to end in late March. However, the clock carries with it no procedural or substantive rights or obligations and merely represents an informal benchmark by which to evaluate the FCC’s progress. Although the regulator seeks to meet the 180-day benchmark, it retains the discretion to determine whether, in any particular review proceeding, events beyond the agency’s control, the need to obtain additional information, or the interests of sound analysis constitute sufficient grounds to stop the clock.