FCC Chair Wants Comcast To Guarantee Access To NBC Programs

In a memo to be circulated today, Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski is expected to tell his fellow commissioners that he wants Comcast to agree to certain conditions before approving the cable giant’s takeover of NBC. Among them: a guarantee that competitors will be able to get access to NBC programs at fair rates, and an assurance that the company won’t throttle streaming services such as Netflix.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the conditions will also include allowing access to NBC programming by competitors:

Mr. Genachowski also will propose conditions that would make Comcast offer NBC programming to other online video providers. Comcast would be required to offer NBC programming to any online video provider who has reached a similar deal for content from one of NBC’s competitors, such as Walt Disney Co. or Fox Television, a division of News Corp.

News Corp. owns Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Genachowski will propose a condition that would require Comcast to keep similar channels, like sports or news channels, close together on cable systems that have both moved to all-digital programming and have set up such programming neighborhoods. That condition was similar to a request from Bloomberg LLC, which hired former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to make sure that the financial news giant’s cable channel is located close to CNBC after the deal closes.

FCC commissioners are expected to vote on the deal in January. Consumer advocates, including Consumer Union, the parent of Consumerist, have criticized the proposed acquisition as being a bad deal for consumers. “The companies maintain they can be trusted not to engage in anti-competitive practices, but Comcast has a well-documented history of treating customers poorly,” Parul P. Desai, policy counsel for Consumers Union, said recently. Consumers Union has not yet issued a statement on Genachowski’s proposal.

UPDATE: Consumers Union’s Parul P. Desai issued the following statement in response to the FCC announcement:

We believe that consumers would be best served if the deal was rejected. It’s hard to imagine how a cable giant like Comcast owning a content empire like NBC Universal could be a plus for consumers’ pocketbooks and competition. The FCC appears to have identified the right areas of concern, including program and online access to content, but the devil is in the details. Since it appears the FCC is likely to approve the deal, it must take seriously its obligations to protect the public interest and adopt strict and enforceable conditions.

FCC Chairman to Propose Approval of Comcast-NBC Deal [WSJ.com]

PREVIOUSLY: Over 55,000 People Sign Consumers Union’s Petition Against NBC/Comcast Deal


Edit Your Comment

  1. SteveZim1017 says:

    yea who needs net neutrality anyway!

    • Nick1693 says:

      The Comcast/Level 3 dispute has nothing to do with net neutrality.

      Peering agreements, free and paid, began after the U.S. government defunded NSFNet in 1995.
      (If iI’m understanding this correctly…) Comcast believes Level 3 should pay for peering because there isn’t an equal amount of data being sent and received between the two.

      • FrugalFreak says:

        There would possibly be equal traffic if they increased upload bandwith. Also the way the net operates makes the uneven traffic the way it is,not Level 3. The ISP’s control the UP traffic and have kept it low, so no wonder it is uneven.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          “We don’t allow people to push traffic to YOUR network, so you shouldn’t allow people to push traffic to OUR network!”

  2. TuxthePenguin says:

    Wait… so this regulator wants to force a private company to sell its product just because a competitor made a “similar” deal? What would the definition of “similar” be? Would it be indexed based on viewership, ratings, number of channels? In any of those cases, would NBC’s competitors be forced into the same stipulations?

    What if NBC made a great deal for consumers with Netflix to provide all episodes 1 day after they are aired. Would every other network be forced to accept a similar deal?

    I need more details…

  3. c!tizen says:

    “The companies maintain they can be trusted not to engage in anti-competitive practices”

    Yeah, you can trust us… I mean, come oooooooon. COME OOOOOOOONNNNNNN. We’re likable guys, right?

  4. Reading_Comprehension says:

    so when embittered voters oust Obama in ’12 and Genachowski is replaced shortly thereafter, what then?

    • oldwiz65 says:

      Nothing to do with Obama. Congress, be it Republican or Democrat, controls the FCC and Congress gets huge amounts of dirty money to make sure the entertainment people get what they want.

      • AnthonyC says:

        The FCC is a federal agency, and thus part of the executive branch.

        It’s commissioners are appointed by the president.

  5. keith4298 says:

    These are the same regulators that wanted to make sure that Sirius and XM wouldn’t merge right?

  6. oldwiz65 says:

    The FCC and Congress receive way too much money from the entertainment industry and the cable companies to block them from doing anything they want. It is quite likely that non-Comcast cable companies will either lose NBC programming entirely or will have to pay exorbitant fees for access. This is what happens when dirty money rules Congress and the FCC.

  7. coren says:

    . Among them: a guarantee that competitors will be able to get access to NBC programs at fair rates

    According to The Wall Street Journal, the conditions will also include allowing access to NBC programming by competitors

    This article isn’t repetitive or repeating information or being repetitive at all

    • FrugalFreak says:

      Fair rates?

      I’m certain fair rates by Comcast and Fair rates by competitors are two completely different numbers. Profit leeching can never be fair.