FCC working to keep Comcast from stifling video competition

Shot of a Comcast pay station in a shopping mall.

Comcast could become your monopoly, regardless of whether you want it or not. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/bclinesmith/Flickr)

The merger of Comcast and NBC Universal has drawn criticism from numerous sources, centered on the potential threat that the mega-company could become a monopolistic gatekeeper of televised and online media. In theory, Julius Genachowski and the Federal Communications Commission support open competition, where no one company controls the flow of information. Thus, the FCC is currently in negotiations with Comcast to ensure that Comcast Corp. will not take control once the NBC Universal purchase is complete, reports the Associated Press.

Video competition: The battle for your eyeballs

Comcast is seeking to purchase majority share in NBC Universal from General Electric, a potential $13.8 billion deal that has U.S. broadcasters and consumer groups worried that media and video competition will sink beneath Comcast’s massive bloat. Genachowski and the FCC want to ensure that other broadcast media companies will still have room to compete for viewership. If broadcasting companies are squeezed out of being able to obtain the necessary programming to grow and compete, those companies will fail and further strengthen the front-runner.

The Comcast–NBC Universal merger, by the numbers

If Comcast’s purchase of NBC Universal is completed, Comcast will have control of an astronomical media network. All NBC and Telemundo networks; 26 local TV stations; a host of popular cable networks like CNBC, Bravo and Oxygen; Universal film studio and related amusement parks; and a significant stake in Hulu.com. As Comcast already is in control of cable channels like E! Entertainment, Versus and the Golf Channel – and has controlling interest in various Philadelphia pro sports teams and their corresponding cable networks – the mega-corporation’s already staggering reach would be off the scale. Comcast now has about 23 million On-Demand video subscribers and 17 million broadband Internet subscribers.

Imagine the loopholes

The recent net neutrality ruling by the FCC has left behind what many experts consider to be “too many loopholes” — space for telecommunications companies to throttle bandwidth and play favorites. That ignores the spirit of competition that the FCC claims it seeks to preserve.


Associated Press

Sen. Al Franken blasts Comcast-NBC merger

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