FCC Commissioner Michael Copps got a tour
of Allbritton's Washington operations (WJLA TV, Politico and Newschannel 8)
last week, where executives for all three talked about the
"grave" implications of the deal on competition in the Washington
Allbritton, which is a major critic of the deal, has argued
that it would give Comcast/NBCU the ability to favor its own station in the
market--WRC--and its own news content over that of NewsChannel 8.
According to an FCC ex parte filing about the Copps field
trip, the executives, which included Allbritton Chairman Robert
Allbritton, company President Fred Ryan and station manager Bill Lord, focused
on reports that WRC was planning to launch a local news channel in
competition to NewsChannel 8.
Allbritton has been pushing for divestiture and programming
nondiscrimination conditions on the deal.
The execs also talked about the combination of Comcast's Spotlight
sales team with WRC-TV given that Spotlight currently also represents Cox Cable
in Fairfax, Va., (a Washington suburb) as well.
The FCC and NBC are still vetting the proposed $30 billion joint
venture between the two companies.
Allbritton execs asked the commissioner to "take time to
carefully assess the deal's critical implications on competition and
independent news voices" in the D.C. market.