Comcast asks for limited online video conditions to merger with NBC
A senior Comcast executive told the Federal Communication Commission Wednesday that if the agency includes online video among conditions for regulatory approval of the company’s proposed merger with NBC Universal, those provisions should be narrowly tailored.
The remarks by Comcast senior executive vice president David Cohen suggest that the multibillion-dollar transaction could be moving closer to winning federal approval. The cable giant had previously resisted any conditions governing Internet distribution of of NBC-owned shows and movies.
In recent days, Comcast and NBC executives have met with FCC and Justice Department officials to discuss possible online video distribution rules attached to approval of the deal. Competitors and public-interest groups have argued that a merged Comcast-NBC could withhold certain content from rival online video providers, making it harder for companies such as Netflix and YouTube to compete for an audience.
During a meeting Wednesday with FCC officials, according to a company filing with the agency, Cohen cited economic and legal reasons for limiting the scope of any online video requirements. The officials present for the meeting included the FCC chairman's chief of staff, Edward Lazarus, and senior counsel for transactions, John Flynn.
Cohen told Lazarus and Flynn that “onerous conditions or obligations in this nascent and dynamic business [of online video] could have significant unintended consequences for consumers, competition, and Comcast's and NBC Universal's businesses,” according to the filing.
Sources familiar with the federal review said the FCC and Justice Department have already indicated their lists of conditions and that the timing of the merger depends largely on how quickly Comcast accepts those requirements. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Planned Comcast-NBC merger ignites TV access battle
| December 16, 2010; 10:30 PM ET
Categories: Comcast, DOJ, FCC, Online Video
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