updated 04:50 pm EST, Mon November 15, 2010
Comcast-NBC deal may force outsider online deals
Comcast's proposed merger with NBC could require the combined entity to offer video to others online, according to sources speaking out Monday. The FCC's proposed rules for the telecom giant would prevent it from withholding content from any competitor, including Apple's iTunes, Netflix, Vudu or other digital services. Agency officials might also require a net neutrality rule that prevents it from interfering with traffic from these or any other legal service, the WSJ's insiders said.
The merger has been one of the more hotly contested deals in recent FCC history and has been under review for almost a year. The tipsters claimed Chairman Julius Genachowski was meeting with staff twice a week to discuss the deal. Plans would have the decision sped up from its original early 2011 target to by the end of the year.
Critics both in hearings and in advocacy group statements have expressed concern that Comcast might close down access to NBC's content by either taking its content out of rival channels or worsening deals with Apple and Netflix. Others have complained of the typical effects of industry consolidation and that Comcast may take steps such as exempting NBC videos from its cable Internet bandwidth caps.
Comcast COO Steve Burke has hinted that TV Everywhere, which provides Internet viewing to existing subscribers, may roll out faster under a merger since content deals would complete faster.