FCC seeks conditions on Comcast-NBC deal - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 12-23-2010, 05:49 PM
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Default FCC seeks conditions on Comcast-NBC deal

The head of the Federal Communications Commission is proposing regulatory conditions to ensure that cable giant Comcast Corp. cannot stifle video competition once it takes control of NBC Universal.

The conditions are intended to guarantee that satellite companies, phone companies and other traditional subscription television services can still get access to marquee NBC programming once the transaction closes. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski also wants to ensure that new Internet video distributors can get the programming they need to grow and compete.
Another condition that has been under consideration would require Comcast to abide by the FCC's existing "program access" rules in dealing with online video distributors. Those rules require cable companies to make programming they own available to rivals such as satellite companies, but right now they do not apply to Internet distributors.

By extending these obligations to Web distributors under certain circumstances, such a condition could prevent Comcast from stifling the growth of the nascent Internet video market, which could eat into Comcast's core cable operations if enough consumers drop their cable subscriptions in favor of low-cost online alternatives. Such a condition would be a setback for Comcast, which had argued that the online video market is still too young for such mandates.

Genachowski's proposal would also require Comcast to continue offering an affordable, standalone broadband option for customers who want Internet access but not cable. This condition, too, could help drive the growth of online video by allowing consumers to cancel their cable subscriptions without losing their Internet connections.

The chairman's proposal would also bar Comcast from interfering with online traffic that travels over its systems, including Internet video from online services such as Apple's iTunes.
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