Philly as new center of the TV universe?

At a House Judiciary Committee public hearing in Los Angeles earlier this month, U.S. Rep. John Conyers said the proposed Comcast-NBC Universal merger “is in the bag.” The comment mirrored what many people thought since Comcast bid to purchase 51 percent of the network in December.

But Conyers was being facetious, and after a heated meeting and the subsequent weeks during which sides were being picked, the merger doesn’t feel quite as inevitable now.

Both the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department’s antitrust unit are still mulling whether the Center City-headquartered cable giant should be permitted to become a production-and-delivery entertainment behemoth.

Today is the deadline to file comments with the FCC, which has already fielded tens of thousands. On July 13, the FCC will host its last scheduled public forum, though Conyers and U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters are calling for more.

The FCC wants to “develop a full and complete record, including input from the public, on the potential effects,” spokeswoman Janice Wise said.

Consumer and public-interest groups who view the merger as a threat to competition and innovation want officials to consider the online impact, specifically “net neutrality.” U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl is pushing for Comcast to divest NBC’s interest in Hulu as a requirement as well.

If the merger were approved, the “Kabletown” entity would be worth an estimated $37 billion. Monday will be the 47th day in a 180-day window for FCC review.

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