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Comcast-NBC joint venture approval expected Tuesday UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  The FCC today approved the Comcast-NBC Universal merger, "smoothing the way for the deal to close by the end of January." The U.S. Justice Department also is expected to approve the deal today, "with conditions." Comcast "will not formally gain control of NBC Universal until after the end of the company's next pay cycle, which is Jan. 28." The FCC voted 4-1 to approve the deal.

01/18/11 Versus, the albatross around IndyCar's neck may soon go away, and not a minute too soon.  Federal regulators are expected to vote Tuesday to approve Comcast and NBC Universal's joint venture, putting an end to a more than year-long review of a controversial union that will combine the nation's biggest broadband Internet and cable service operator with a television and movie powerhouse.  IndyCar is praying that Versus, a TV station almost nobody watches, will be renamed and pulled under the NBC label.

According to sources familiar with the thinking of the Federal Communications Commission, the deal is set to be approved in a four-to-one vote, with Democratic Commissioner Michael J. Copps dissenting. The senior member of the FCC has consistently expressed concern that the joint venture would harm the public interest as too much control of content goes into the hands of a company that also controls how consumer access the Internet and television.

The Justice Department approved the deal in its antitrust review, and is expected to announce conditions it attached to the merger soon after the FCC's vote, according to one source familiar with the federal reviews. Sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal has not been officially approved.

Together, the companies have 16.7 million broadband subscribers, about 23 million cable customers and a vast library of popular shows, including "Saturday Night Live" and "The Office."

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