FCC Questions Slow Down NBC/Comcast Merger Express

Unlike the recent United/Continental merger, which blazed through its regulatory hurdles like something that goes really fast through something else, the marriage of NBC Universal and Comcast isn’t moving as speedily. Yesterday, the FCC hit both bride and groom with a handful of questions it wants answered before giving its blessing to the union.

From the Washington Post:

Specifically, the FCC asked Comcast to submit copies of its agreements to distribute its cable channels such as Regional Sports Network, E! and the Golf Channel to Time Warner Cable, Cox, Brighthouse, DirecTV and other competitors. NBC was asked to show recent contracts for the distribution of its cable networks…

In its letter to Comcast and NBC Universal, the FCC asks several questions about managed services, asking how pay-per-view, video on demand and other video services are sold and who pays for them (the video provider, subscriber or the network).

The FCC also required detailed information regarding advertisers and ad revenue for both TV and online.

The two companies are expected to have their responses back to the FCC by Oct. 18.

If, like our parent company Consumer Union, you are against the NBC/Comcast merger and want to lend your voice to the dissent, CU has launched an online petition that you can add your name to.

Comcast-NBC Universal merger review hits FCC speed bump [Washington Post]

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  1. Macgyver says:

    This woman who wrote that article doesn’t know the difference between a pdf and a doc?

    No one needs to get involved in this. It’s a deal between two businesses. The FCC, DOJ, or any other third party should not be involved in it.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      It’s a service I pay for – I’ll get involved thank you.

      • DeepHurting says:

        You could always get involved by not paying for it.

        • PsychicPsycho says:

          How do you propose we do that if they’re the only game in town? All you’ve managed to do is prove the reason we need regulatory oversight.

          • DeepHurting says:

            When does your outrage at cable companies become greater than your need to watch Mad Men?
            Apparently the public hasn’t reached this point yet.

        • Venality says:

          It’s like that Simpsons episode. “So you’ve decided to steal cable.”

    • georgi55 says:

      Missed few classes of economics, eh?

    • DieBretter says:

      I’m sure you’re also going to say that in the early 80s no one needed to get involved in the antitrust lawsuit against AT&T, which was using monopoly profits to subsidize network costs.

      Nor that the banks that needed lending under TARP were “too big to fail”; they got that size by acquiring other banks. It was a deal between two businesses.

      Monopolies are bad things for consumers, as is having fewer choices to choose from. What the government is potentially trying to avoid here is having NBC content only available on Comcast.

    • MustWarnOthers says:

      I can’t tell if Macgyver is an actual human being, or some kind of ultra conservative “capitalism solves everything” bot that posts on Consumerist articles.

    • sufreak says:

      You clearly have a logical statement. And since the governments never had any involvement when the companies ran cable and had a monopoly for all these years, why start now.

      For the first time in a while, someone is thinking. This needs to be slowed to a stop.

  2. stooj says:

    I’m curious. What happens if the FCC allows a merger, and it later becomes apparent that it was a mistake? Can anyone dissolve the merger after the fact? What if they lie during this discovery faze and it isn’t discovered until afterward?

  3. Buckus says:

    I, for one, welcome our new Kabletown overlords…

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      Exactly, one step to a closer to a full fledged in your face monopoly and one step closer to making it easier for the government to monitor and control your viewing and internet activities since they only have to dictate to one company now.

  4. smo0 says:

    I’m not subjected to this based on the state that I live in…. but it’s a sign of things to come.

    You have to understand, this isn’t the last time this will go down – there are plenty of other, smaller, providers waiting to be eaten up by the bigger predator.

    If you, like me, are not affected by this – you will be… in the coming years.

    • ARP says:

      Yes you are. Even if you don’t have Comcast, once Comcast buys NBC, they’re going to play hardball with other providers for the privilege of providing NBC stations (e.g. Bravo, Syfy, USA, etc.). Inevitably, your rates are going to go up or you’re going to lose those stations. For those of us with Comcast, they’re not going to lower our rates, even though they’re self-dealing for the content.

  5. chucklebuck says:

    I dunno, I just can’t bring myself to get all worked up over this one. I like some of NBC’s programming, I like Hulu, and hell, I even like Comcast (or at least have never had any trouble with them). But if they merge and later down the road XBC Finitiversal does something I don’t like, I’ll stop watching their programming or stop buying cable or stop using Hulu. That’s what happened when Sirius & XM merged. Rates (or, ahem, FEES) went up, commercial times went up, I canceled.

    Nothing either of them provides is a necessity. Very very convenient and entertaining and fun, but not necessary.

    *Disclaimer: I do believe there’s some merit to the argument that high speed internet IS necessary and in some cases Comcast is the only place to get that in your home. For me, HSI is super super convenient and nice, but I could do without it if I had to.

  6. kkevin6154 says:

    I think Macgyver needs to go smoke another one.

    In all honesty, the DOJ, FCC and EVERYONE should be questioning and scrutinizing this merger. This is bad. This is really, really bad. Almost if not more so than the AT&T days in the eighties.

  7. peebozi says:

    Comcast knows everytime you touch a button on your remote and can determine almost “why” you pressed that button.

    Other than that, the free market should work itself out on this one. What’s the worst that can happen…comcast becomes the singloe corporate overlord of our politicians? (Psssst…in a true free market only one company eventually survives to control everything).

  8. jp7570-1 says:

    While it is probably a foregone conclusion, I for one would love to see the KableTown merger halted.

  9. oldwiz65 says:

    The merger will be approved because Comcast/NBC own enough members of congress to force the FCC to allow it. Or they will just slip the right amount of money into the right pockets at the FCC. Once Comcast owns NBC, lots of luck to the other cable cos who want to carry NBC programming; they will either not get it at all or have to pay ridiculous fees for it.

  10. Blious says:

    The thought of Comcast having so much power should be EVERYONE, including Comcast people, scared

    They will do their best to keep their products just to themselves thus screwing EVERYONE ELSE out

    And no, that is not what businesses should do when they own as much as they do due to merging….Comcast has no right to horde it all