With the days of 2010 running out, Comcast Corp. no longer expects to close on its proposed joint venture with NBC Universal Inc. this year.
NBCU head Jeffrey Zucker distributed a holiday-greetings memo to employees saying that the companies expect a "green light" for the deal in January, and Comcast confirmed the new timetable Wednesday.
Both companies are awaiting the results of reviews by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice. The two companies propose combining their programming and news operations into one company that would be controlled by Comcast.
Industry sources say an FCC order spelling out conditions for the Comcast-NBCU merger could be circulated to commission offices as early as Thursday. But the order could be changed, and it is expected to take some time before FCC commissioners vote on it.
Brian L. Roberts, chief executive officer of Comcast, has said repeatedly throughout the year that he hoped to complete the deal by the end of December.
"We believe the FCC and the DOJ continue to make substantial progress toward approval of our transaction. However, because of the lead time required to prepare for a close, it now appears that we will not be able to close the transaction with GE relating to NBC Universal by year-end," Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice said Wednesday.
"We have notified our transition teams that there will not be a Dec. 31 closing. We believe the regulatory review puts us on track for a closing in January 2011. We are appreciative of the hard work by the FCC and DOJ staff and by our own transition teams, and look forward to completing the process early next year."