Business and Deals

Comcast/NBCU Argue Against Free Press for Online Conditions

Deal parties, critics pitch FCC on their positions as merger review continues 11/29/2010 09:46:41 AM Eastern

Comcast continued to argue at the FCC last week against a merger condition on access to online content.

In a conference call with John Flynn, the top merger advisor to FCC Chairman Juilus Genachowski, NBC execs also argued against any arbitration process on online distribution.

The executives, including NBCU ECP and General Counsel Rick Cotton, "described the many complexities with any condition that would require the licensing of programming to online video distributors, particularly given the significant differences between traditional MVPD distribution and online video distribution," according to an ex parte filing with the FCC.

On the same day that Comcast and NBCU were arguing against such conditions, Joel Kelsey, political advisor for deal critic Free Press was making the opposite case, according to an FCC filing. " Kelsey says he "underscored that the merger presents a threat to the development of competitive online video distribution services" and "reiterated that we believe Comcast perceives online video as a threat to its facilitiesbased MVPD services, and that NBCU will have increased incentive to limit its online distribution if the merger is approved."

The broadband-focused FCC has asked a bunch of questions about access to content online as it vets the proposed $30 million merger Comcast and NBCU. Comcast has said it is still hopeful it can get a decision by the end of this month from the FCC and Justice Department.

The FCC's informal 180-day shot clock on the deal is now on day 184.

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