updated 06:30 pm EST, Tue January 11, 2011
Comcast-NBC deal terms leak, push neutrality
A merged Comcast and NBC would have to live under net neutrality conditions for at least seven years, according to escaped details from the FCC's proposed terms. Regardless of what would happen with neutrality rules, it would be banned from blocking or throttling rival content as well as from prioritizing its own services, such as Hulu. It further couldn't use set-top boxes or other hardware to steer customers towards its own content at others' expense, Bloomberg heard from FCC tipsters.
Neutrality would play a role in pricing, both on the network and in offering content. The carrier's 250GB cap would have to apply equally to its own traffic. Any content offered by a rival likewise would have to be matched by Comcast offering available "comparable programming" at market prices.
Neither the FCC, Comcast nor NBC has commented on the terms, which could be made public within days.
Comcast has tried to oppose as much regulation of its NBC merger as possible but has faced stiff opposition from politicians monitoring the transaction as well as advocacy groups. Concerns have existed that the cable network might abuse a new connection to Hulu to refuse supplying NBC shows to Apple, Amazon, Netflix and other services that take away from its business. It could also theoretically exempt NBC from data caps and let Comcast demand steep peering prices from services that also feed content providers. Level 3 has already complained that Comcast was trying to "double dip" and charge extra for traffic coming from Netflix.
Countering arguments have warned that such conditions might negate Hulu's advantages by making Comcast negotiate for video deals with competitors behind Hulu's back, preventing the semi-independent company from getting any NBC-themed exclusives.