Wednesday, January 19, 2011

FCC Gives Conditional Approval To Comcast/NBC Merger

The FCC has approved the Comcast NBC/Universal merger, but has attached some interesting conditions.

Hulu can no longer be controlled by the merged corporation (so expect an IPO for the burgeoning online service very soon), and the company is obliged to do everything from offering a low cost broadband package to offering open access on a fair basis to other broadband content providers.

Of course, all such mitigations are subject to the ability of large corporations to find loopholes, and Comcast has already pushed the envelope on this in the past.

The ruling should be informative to authorities in the UK as they come to rule on the NewsCrop takeover for the part of Sky it does not own, since this deal looks poised to be passed to the competition authorities following some incredible buck passing by the authorities.

Ostensibly, it's a small win for content owners and channel operators, but is also naive. It's very easy to argue 'equal carriage' whilst pushing a channel down the EPG, or by bundling only premium (i.e. premium paying) channels into certain packages.

Still, the FCC is laying down a framework for the media oligopoly it now regulates in the US.

ADDENDUM It's worth adding this Obama quote to this post: "I strongly favor diversity of ownership of outlets and protection against the excessive concentration of power in the hands of any one corporation, interest or small group. I strongly believe that all citizens should be able to receive information from the broadest range of sources."