Here Come the Terms: Comcast Says the Conditions Imposed By the FCC On the NBC Deal Are Not ‘Particularly Restrictive’

Jan 19, 2011  •  Post A Comment

The conditions imposed by the Federal Communications Commission on Comcast for getting the go-ahead on its NBC Universal deal are not considered by Comcast to be particularly restrictive, reports The New York Times.

Says the article, " ‘I don’t think any of the conditions are particularly restrictive,’ said David L. Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast, in a conference call on Tuesday afternoon. He noted that the company was not forced to sell any assets. It did agree, however, to give up NBC’s management role in Hulu, the premier online TV Web site, while retaining a financial stake."

The article also noted that "[I]n some cases, under rules enforced by the F.C.C. and the Justice Department, Comcast may be required to distribute certain programming on the Internet — if one of its rivals does so first. For example, if Apple were to reach a deal with Viacom to distribute MTV’s reality shows, Comcast could be required to offer comparable shows to Apple under similar terms. In addition, in certain cases, Comcast would be required to offer Apple the same terms for its entire suite of NBC channels that it gives to cable companies. This, however, is largely theoretical for now and would probably be prohibitively expensive. Rich Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG, estimated that if Netflix were to offer all of NBC Universal’s programming, it would cost it nearly $1 billion a year."

Additionally, afer lobbying hard for almost a year, Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg Television, has apparently been given a nod in the conditions, reports the New York Times’ Media Decoder blog seprately.

Embedded in the conditions is a requirement from the FCC that says, "if Comcast neighborhoods its news (including business news) channels, it must include all unaffiliated news (or business news) channels in that neighborhood," the story notes. Because Comcast will gain control of CNBC, a competitor to Bloomberg TV, Bloomberg had lobbied for such a condition that would ensure Comcast couldn’t exclude Bloomberg TV from a news channel cluster on the channel dial, the piece notes.  

"In today’s order, the F.C.C. has taken strong action to preserve independent news programming, and protect competitors against discrimination,” Bloomberg LP President Dan Doctoroff said in a statement.

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