The FCC and the Justice Department finally approved the merger of Comcast, the country’s largest cable provider, and major broadcasting network NBC Universal. Because people feared it would give too much media power to one company, it took nearly 2 years to approve.
As a result of this concern, the FCC included several provisions with which the combined companies are to follow. In a press release, the FCC said, “Comcast-NBCU will be required to take affirmative steps to foster competition in the video marketplace. In addition, Comcast-NBCU will increase local news coverage to viewers; expand children’s programming; enhance the diversity of programming available to Spanish-speaking viewers; offer broadband services to low-income Americans at reduced monthly prices; and provide high-speed broadband to schools, libraries and underserved communities, among other public benefits.”
In spite of these provisions, there are a lot of people and public interest groups that still have concerns. For instance, Josh Silver of Free Press believes the deal has potential to be very harmful to consumers. In an article on the Huffington Post, he said that it “sets the table for Comcast to turn the Internet into cable television, where it has the ability to speed up its content, slow down or block its competitors such as Netflix, and hike the rates for its programming and services.”
He also indicated that consumers who are not even Comcast subscribers would be affected as well. This could happen if Comcast/NBC Universal raise the prices that other cable and online distributors pay for NBC content, which he believes is very likely.
“Without strong and meaningful safeguards, the economics of the deal virtually mandate that Comcast/NBCU will discriminate in favor of its own content and leave writers and other independent members of the creative community out in the cold.”
Public interest group Public Knowledge was not in favor of the merger either, but in an interview with WebProNews, said that it was pleased with the provisions laid out for the online video. It placed its strongest opposition in this area and was glad that the U.S. government actually granted official recognition to the space.
As for the impact on consumers, Art Brodsky, speaking for Public Knowledge said, “We hope that, over time, that as online competition develops, consumers will have more options and won’t have to be as dependent on cable as they are now; and that the cord cutting trend that we’ve seen over the past year or so, will be able to accelerate.”
The deal is expected to be complete today. Although the real effects of the merger won’t be felt immediately, what do you think the impact will be?