Well, the FCC and Justice Department have approved the NBC/Comcast merger. As time goes on we’ll see how much this action harms consumers and competition. Comcast has a history of screwing both, and its likely that their behavior is sexually transmitted. It’s not all bad, however, the FCC has required that the new relationship follow several regulations as part of being allowed to merge.
Here’s the rules:
- Comcast/NBC must license its programming to online distributors that have obtained distribution agreements with one of NBC/Universal’s peers.
- Comcast is not allowed to do anything that would limit content owners’ abilities to freely negotiate creative arrangements with Comcast competitors.
- Retaliation against any broadcast network, affiliate, cable programmer, production studio or content provider for licensing content to Comcast competitors is prohibited.
- Comcast must relinquish its management rights in Hulu, which is a joint venture of NBC, Fox and ABC to prevent Comcast from using NBC/Universal’s partial ownership of Hulu to diminish its competitive significance.
These are all good, and important, to preserve consumer choice and a fair competitive market. But as we all know, many corporations just love finding loopholes and technicalities that allow them to do whatever they want. Couple this with the FCC’s current appearance of being completely ball-less and we could all, before long, be shaking our heads at the resulting nightmare. You want to hear something else, these regulations have an expiration date. That’s right, in seven years these regulations will no longer be in effect. Seven years is a long time, but when you’re talking about two behemoth corporations such as this, they’ll still be around. I certainly hope they aren’t expecting them to just continue playing nice because they were forced to do so for the better part of a decade.
Obviously it’s entirely too early to tell what’s going to come of this merger. Will the FCC follow through with these regulations and enforce them should the need arise? Will the Comcast/NBC merger actually follow them religiously or will they mercilessly seek out loopholes that allow them to snuff out competition? Upon the expiration of these regulations will Comcast/NBC continue to play fair? We’ll have to wait and see.
- Comcast-NBC Merger: The Hulu Rules (techcrunch.com)
- Comcast-NBC Merger Approved By FCC (tech.slashdot.org)
- Comcast wins FCC approval to take over NBC (seattletimes.nwsource.com)