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Comcast, NBCU Merger Deal, Part 2: Antitrust Regulation Sticking Points

As reported in the previous post, when Comcast announced the $30 billion merger deal with NBCU in December, it said it would readily accept certain conditions for approval by government regulators, but it would not accept “abusive conditions.”

Now six months into the government anti-trust regulation process, there is discussion and disagreement between government regulators, Comcast, and groups opposing the deal over what concessions the nation’s largest cable system should make to merge with NBCU, which includes the Universal movie studio, NBC broadcast-TV network, and cable-TV channels.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Justice Department and the Federal Communication Commission will likely ask for limits to Comcast’s flexibility in how it decides to run the merged companies of Comcast and NBCU. This means that Comcast may be constricted in its ability to try out new business models.

The Inquirer also reports on areas of content and programming being analyzed by government regulators and outside critics. Some question whether a merger would allow Comcast to use NBC broadcast-TV content as exclusive content for pay-TV cable subscribers, and to withhold it from pay-TV competitors. Comcast has said it will not do this and that it would be illegal.

Regulators and critics are also looking at Internet content and some say Comcast should sell NBCU’s ownership position in Hulu, a website that offers broadcast-TV shows, TV-show clips, and movies online. The executive vice president of Comcast, David L. Cohen, said it would be unfair and “a mistake” for government regulators to impose restrictions on them regarding internet content, which is too new to know where the merged businesses and shareholders could take it in the future.



Comcast spending multimillions to fight for NBCU merger (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

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