Waters Joins Comcast Complaint Chorus

Congresswoman says NBCU deal needs close scrutiny in wake of Zoom, Tennis Channel, Level 3 complaints
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Comcast/NBCU deal critic Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) Tuesday wrote FCC Chaiman Julius Genachowski to reiterate her concerns, citing compaints against the company by network services company Level 3 and Zoom Telephonics and Tennis Channel's program carriage complaint as new reasons forthe FCCs' "close examination" of the deal.

She advised the chairman that if the deal is approved, it should be with "substantive commitments that will promote media diversity,competition, and consumer protections," and said that approval, if it comes, should not come before the facts of the Tennis Channel and Zoom complaints are "fully disclosed to the public." Waters has not opposed the deal, but has general concerns about media consolidation and "serious questions" about it.

As for Level 3's complaint that Comcast was charging it more for Netflix traffic, she said there was some merit to Comcast's explanation of why it was charging more for Level 3's Netflix traffic, she likened it to Comcast's blocking of BitTorrent peer-to-peer file uploads, which the company at first denied. She said that the "implications and dynamics" would change after Comcast took over NBCU, and that it could drive outonline competition to favor its own content "with a new full catalog of Universal Pictures, Focus Features films, NBCU cable shows (NBC, Bravo,SyFy, and Style), and other online content offered through Hulu."

A number of deal critics, including Media Access Project, Free Press and Public Knowledge, were pointing to the Level 3 and zoom complaints Tuesday to argue for denying or conditioning the deal.

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