Comcast Outlines Program Access Philosophy To Regulators

Assures FCC, DOJ that carriage of owned networks is not a condition
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Comcast
programming execs met with representatives of the FCC and Justice department in
Washington late last week to talk about how Comcast makes its
programming available on the air and online, including assuring regulators
that it does not require carriage of any of its owned networks as a condition
of access to any other.

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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