In a move approved by the FCC, Comcast and NBC will likely be merging. This Comcast/NBC merger is being lauded by industry advocates. Public interest groups, however, are worried that the Comcast/NBC merger will be terrible for consumers.
The details of the Comcast NBC merger
In the last few months, Comcast announced its intention to take over 51 percent of NBC. Comcast intends to spend more than $30 billion to purchase that controlling stake from General Electric company, which currently controls NBC Universal. Comcast currently controls the internet service for 17 million subscribers and television for 23 million cable subscribers. NBC Universal owns NBC, CNBC, Bravo, Oxygen, Universal Studios and 30 percent of Hulu. The purchase requires and has been granted approval by the Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department anti-trust unit.
Comcast NBC merger pros
The FCC approval of the Comcast NBC merger does not come without conditions. Comcast has promised to add 1,000 hours of informational and news programming. The company has also promised to provide broadband internet access for $9.95 a month to low-income households. Specific regulations have also been put in place to help prevent the Comcast-controlled NBC from using its control to kill competitors in both internet and television programming arenas.
NBC Comcast merger cons
Though Comcast has promised to take action to prevent unfair competition, many consumer advocates are concerned about the merger. The one FCC Commissioner who voted against the deal voiced concern that the “concentration of media under Comcast’s control would put too much power into one company that controls the access consumers have.” The media consolidation means that Comcast NBC could create more of a wall around their content. Vertical integration helps reduce costs, but it also creates more of an opportunity for abuse. With no specific net neutrality regulations — or even jurisdiction — the FCC could easily be getting in over its head by allowing this merger.
Washington Post: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/posttech/2011/01/the_federal_communications_com_8.html
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