Comcast Outlines Program Access Philosophy To Regulators
Assures FCC, DOJ that carriage of owned networks is not a condition
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 8/24/2010 3:11:15 PM
That is according to an ex parte filing with the FCC as Comcast continues to provide information to the two agencies vetting its proposed joint venture with NBCU.
The company reiterated that it has no plans to migrate online delivery of NBC programming to the TV Everywhere subscription model.
According to Comcast, Jeff Shell, president of the Comcast Programming Group, told the staffers, in answer to a question, that Comcast may discount the price of one network to expand distribution of another, but it does not condition carriage of one channel on carriage of another, saying that the cost-benefit analysis of that strategy does not add up.
On the issue of access to online programming, which FCC and Justice both appear to be interested in, Shell said Comcast "envisioned" making online video available to competing cable, satellite and telco distributors.
He said that to the extent that Comcast makes its or new NBCU content available online to Comcast-authenticated subs, it "intends" to make it available on reasonable terms to other MVPDs' authenticated customers. Comcast's Xfinity TV model makes online versions of its programming available to those who can authenticate they are a subscriber.
He also reiterated that Comcast has "no intention" of changing NBC's decision to make some of its content available for free on co-owned site Hulu, and "expects" that the NBC programming now available on the site will not migrate elsewhere.
The reason for the conditional language is that the company doesn't want to foreclose possibilities in a fast-moving and changing marketplace. "Of course, while Comcast has no plans to change current practices, the dynamism of the online video sector makes it unwise to set in stone any plans with respect to putting content online in any particular fashion," Shell told his audience according to a summary of the conversation in the filing. "Comcast and the new NBCU will need to preserve the freedom to innovate and change distribution methods as business models evolve, as has occurred with Hulu even during the pendency of this transaction."
Hulu launched subscription service Hulu Plus earlier this year, which offers more content, more HD content, and more support for accessing it on smart devices for a fee of $9.99 month.
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