The Fox-Cablevision Dispute, Though Settled for Now, May Have Ramifications for the Comcast-NBC Deal

Nov 1, 2010  •  Post A Comment

A Wall Street analyst has written "Comcast, which is buying a majority stake in the media company [NBC Universal] from General Electric Co., may receive heightened regulatory scrutiny as a result of the [Cablevision-Fox] dispute, said James Ratcliffe, an analyst at Barclays Capital in New York, reports Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

The article adds, " ‘In light of the Cablevision-Fox dispute, there is clearly more attention being paid to program access, making restrictions more likely,’ Ratcliffe said in an Oct. 25 note to investors."

Another analyst told BusinessWeek that the restrictions imposed by the Federal Communications Commission might be like the ones required of News Corp. when it took contral of DirecTV — conditions that no longer apply because News Corp. no longer owns the satellite distributor.

According to the article, "The FCC mandated that News Corp. accept arbitration of disputes with pay-TV providers over fees to carry local Fox stations and regional sports programming. The condition was intended to prevent News Corp. from withholding Fox from its competitors to lure viewers to subscribe to DirecTV. News Corp. also agreed not to black out network programming or its regional sports networks while a dispute was being arbitrated."

The article goes on to say that according to this second anlayst, "FCC-imposed restrictions could threaten Comcast’s ability to grow affiliate fees and profitability at the network.”

The article says Hulu could be under scrutiny as well.

The story also says, "Sena Fitzmaurice, a spokeswoman for Comcast, said in an e-mail that the Fox-Cablevision dispute should not affect its deal for NBC Universal. Jen Howard, a spokeswoman for the FCC, declined to comment on the commission’s review."


  1. Look at what Comcast has done the last two years. Last year they banned Versus (the NHL’s key network partner) from DirecTV through almost the entire Hockey season in order to leverage a better deal. This year they are banning G4 – which has a very strong young male base to leverage DirecTV again. This pattern sets up well for Comcast when they control NBCU – which has NFL and the Olympics.

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