Waters Uses Fox/Cablevision Hook to Talk Comcast/NBCU

Warns Comcast could leverage NBCU stations to negotiate higher rates from cable competitors
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Rep. Maxine Waters used the Fox/Cablevision retrans fight to renew her calls for conditions on the Comcast/NBCU deal.

In a letter
to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, she said that if Comcast were to use
its ownership of NBCU TV stations, or online content, as leverage to
negotiate higher rates from cable competitors,
it could potentially harm consumers.

"Therefore,
the FCC and DOJ should strongly consider the impact the merger could
have in areas where Comcast will own both a cable system and an NBC
owned-and-operated broadcast station," she wrote.

Comcast has
already agreed to a number of voluntary retrans/progarm carriage
conditions as part of its agreement with non-NBC affiliates. While she
was at it, Waters encouraged the Commission and Justice, which is also
vetting the deal, to "closely examine" Comcast's diversity commitments.
In particulary she seemed unwerwhelmed by Comcast's
pledge of a $20 million capital fund for minority entrepreneurs,
calling it "a marginal amount considering the scale of modern media
ownership and associated operational costs."

And while
she noted Comcast has pledged to launch ten independent channels in the next eight years--if the deal goes through--she pointed out that it had
not specificed how the channels would be carried
or how many subs they will have at launch.

She
suggested that beyond those, the FCC and Justice should take a cue from
the FCC's Diversity Committee and suggestions like having broadcasters
sublease their channels to diverse entities for a
fee.

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