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FCC Chair Seeks Comcast-NBC Merger Conditions 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-stifle-yourself dept.
Anarki2004 writes with this excerpt from an Associated Press report: "The head of the Federal Communications Commission is proposing regulatory conditions to ensure that cable TV giant Comcast Corp. cannot stifle competition in the video market once it takes control of NBC Universal. The conditions laid out Thursday by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski are intended to guarantee that satellite providers and other rival television services can still carry marquee NBC programming and that new Internet video distributors can get the content they need to grow and compete. ... Genachowski wants to ensure that Comcast won't be able to use its control over NBC's vast media empire to withhold content from emerging online competitors such as Netflix Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. — locking consumers into costly monthly cable bills to get access to a wide range of popular programming. Genachowski now needs at least two of the other four FCC commissioners to back his proposal, and he is likely to make modifications to win the support he needs to cap off the yearlong regulatory review."
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FCC Chair Seeks Comcast-NBC Merger Conditions

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  • by Metabolife (961249) on Friday December 24, 2010 @12:13PM (#34660330)

    How about making it a condition that they can't purposely slow down the guide menu just so you see the ads for longer? K thx

    • by onionman (975962)

      How about making it a condition that they can't purposely slow down the guide menu just so you see the ads for longer? K thx

      I'd also like a condition that says they have to increase their network architecture to support their advertised broadband speeds.

      • by Abstrackt (609015) on Friday December 24, 2010 @12:21PM (#34660380)

        I'd also like a condition that says they have to increase their network architecture to support their advertised broadband speeds.

        What would they do that? Only pirates use their Internet connections to the fullest capacity!

        Sincerely,
        RIAA & MPAA

        • by Beerdood (1451859)
          Well gamers might use their connection to the fullest capacity. And those using netflix. But neither of us are in the gaming industry so yea, we're not in any hurry to support the broadband speeds we advertise. Also, we'll need a few years to establish a more dominant streaming video share of the market... maybe when netflix goes bankrupt (because we throttled them to death) and Hulu has 90% of the market..

          We'll get right on the architecture upgrade when that happens!

          Sincerely,
          Comcast & NBC
          • by dgatwood (11270)

            But by MPAA logic, commercial skipping is piracy, so watching streaming video on Hulu without watching the cable-company-provided ads is also piracy.... :-)

            Yeah, I know. There's no "+1 Sad, but true" moderation. Such is life.

      • And also forbidden to convert NBC and NBC Sports from free broadcast channels to cable only channels.

    • by NetNed (955141)
      Comcast's boxes are the worst. Even before the ads were on them, they moved S-L-O-W!! Definitely not the provider for channel surfers.
    • conditions? lol (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Weezul (52464) on Friday December 24, 2010 @12:54PM (#34660586)

      I'd like to see them break up both Comcast and NBC into smaller regional outfits. :P

  • This issue concerns me because I want to ditch cable for one of those hot new 4G cell phones with WiFi tethering. I don't watch much TV anyway, and anything I want to see is already on the internet. If the cable companies buy up all the good content, I'll be stuck paying $120 per month for a bunch of crap that I'll never watch.

    My diabolical plan includes buying a digital antenna so I can get my football games. I also need some way to record those games so I can watch them at my leisure and skip the co

    • by NetNed (955141)
      They have some stand alone DVR's on the market that might be cheaper then the HTPC option, but with a HTPC you could also use it to steam a lot of different video to your tv without having to worry if it is blocked like more and more media devices are becoming to certain sites. Large drives are cheap that adding more space is a easy option.
    • Moxie? HDHomeRun + DVR software?

  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thornburg (264444) on Friday December 24, 2010 @12:28PM (#34660420)

    So let me get this straight.

    The head of the FCC has just said, "We know this merger could be bad for consumers in several ways. Here are the ways: 'A, B, C'. However, I'd like to let the merger go through, if Comcast just promises not to do those bad things."

    Genius. Trust a business to put the interests of the people ahead of their profit. Sounds like a brilliant plan.

    Even if the promise is backed by punishment if they break it, it's still a terrible idea, and there's no way they can cover every bad thing Comcast could do in the promise.

    • And that's just the bad things we THINK they would try to get away with.

      That doesn't include the bad things they will do very underhandedly, things we probably didn't consider.

    • Suppose the FCC showed some spine and said, "No, this is not a merger that we can allow to happen, it would not be in the best interests of the American public." Comcast would sue, and say something to the effect of, "The FCC is going to prevent us from becoming more profitable than we already are, which is clearly a bad thing!" to which the judge would reply, "Hm, yes, you do need to be more profitable," and the FCC would be overruled. The problem is much broader: our government has forgotten that it is
      • by jmorris42 (1458) *

        What is wrong with shareholders in large corporations making money? Odds are YOU are one of those people even if you don't realize it. Own a 401k? Have a pension plan of some other type? Guess what, you are invested in large corporations and depend on their stock price increasing and/or them paying dividends.

        > The problem is much broader: our government has forgotten that it is supposed to do what is best for all its citizens

        Wrong. The government we were given is supposed to provide for a basic "Rul

        • What is wrong with shareholders in large corporations making money?

          At what point did I say large corporations should not be making money? Did I say they should not be profitable? I said the reason we are seeing these enormous, anti-competitive mergers is that large corporations want to become more profitable than they already are, and that the government will allow it without regard for whether or not it best serves the people.

          The government we were given is supposed to provide for a basic "Rule of Law" environment and prevent one Citizen (or group) from causing direct harm to other Citizens (or groups) of same.

          That is only part of what the government is supposed to do. Take another look at your constitution, you seem to have missed a few things abou

    • Government can't mess with corporations; they are the dominant institutions not the peoples' government (what it used to be.)

      "Government just needs to leave corporations alone to do the right thing and compete for goodness..."
      How could people believe this stupid shit and NOW after all this mess the corporations have caused how can they still have so many supporters??

      The officials do not count because their job is to bow to the corporate interests while whitewashing the problems to the public.

    • The FCC can add regulatory conditions to all cable companies, which is what the commissioner is proposing now. The regulation is specifically aimed at Comcast so that they don't abuse their position after the merger.

      But I don't think the FCC has the power to actually block this specific merger, at least on anti-trust grounds. That might require the Dept of Justice. Does anyone know exactly?

      Based upon what I've read about his proposals on this merger and the Net Neutrality issue, Genachowski see
    • by jmorris42 (1458) *

      > The head of the FCC has just said, "We know this merger could
      > be bad for consumers in several ways.

      Uh huh. NBC/Universal owned by Comcast is just so much worse than being owned by GE. How?

      The public concerns are just a smokescreen anyway. I'd bet the real dealing is between Apple/Amazon and Comcast to make sure content, doesn't get locked to cable as stated, but to Hulu. Apple/Amazon have a lot of lobbying power and ain't afraid of using it. Then the Progs at the FCC/Administration are wanting

      • by RicoX9 (558353)

        As opposed to Fox printing money as the Republican Party mouthpiece? The "news" institution that went to court to insure their legal right to lie?

        Both parties are full of crap, the Republicans happen to be way ahead in the corruption race right now.

    • Even if the promise is backed by punishment if they break it, it's still a terrible idea, and there's no way they can cover every bad thing Comcast could do in the promise.

      Not only that, but the fines that the FCC would have to levy in order to dissuade Comcast from doing these bad things would be record breaking. They would have to be in the billions of dollars per year of operation. Anything short of that is a win for Comcast. And that's just not going to happen.

      Gotta give Comcast credit: they know how to prevent being a commodity provider. It's too bad there's a lot of free-market fundies out there who don't get exactly how bad this would be for actual competition in the I

    • o let me get this straight.

      The head of the FCC has just said, "We know this merger could be bad for consumers in several ways. Here are the ways: 'A, B, C'. However, I'd like to let the merger go through, if Comcast just promises not to do those bad things."

      Its not "just promises".

      It "accepts being legally prohibited from doing them."

      Genius. Trust a business to put the interests of the people ahead of their profit.

      Its not about "trust". Its about imposing requirements.

      en if the promise is backed by punishment if they break it, it's still a terrible idea, and there's no way they can cover every bad thing Comcast could do in the promise.

      Their legal mandate is not to cover every bad thing Comcast can do, it is to establish conditions under which the acquisi

  • Block the Sale (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Felix Da Rat (93827) on Friday December 24, 2010 @12:28PM (#34660426)

    If there are such serious concerns for what impact the sale will make, block it on anti-trust issues. I'm not one for government regulation, but we have some laws for situations like this.

    These weak concessions, and planning on negotiating them down, makes this appear as little but a panacea for the citizens anger when they start getting shafted.

  • Lemon, did you see this? Representative Bookman is claiming that our merger with Kabletown must be subject to federal regulation and oversight. They're concerned about "uncompetitive practices". Utterly absurd. I haven't heard such a charge since Hugh Hefner kicked me out of the mansion.

    The marketplace is about competition, Lemon, in its purset form. You do whatever you can, whatever you have to, to get ahead. If you don't compete, you die. Nobody steps in to save you from your enemies. This isn't f

  • what about forcing CSN Philly and others like it to satellite!

    Like
    CSN NW
    CSS
    TCN (the comcast network / CSN Philly +)
    comcast network 100 / CN100 / comcast network Chicago
    comcast network 101 / CN101 / comcast network Chicago (over flow)

    other comcast networks in other city's

    CSN Huston starts 2011 / 2012

  • Because, they just stick to their word. just like how wall street did, just like how bp did. just like how any other company does. because... well, because companies are made of love !
  • Huge content company plus huge isp. How could it miss?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24, 2010 @01:03PM (#34660634)

    I'd be happy if there were laws against the joining of Content and Distribution. This vertical model is bad for the marketplace and for consumers.

    • Because clearly the iTunes Store selling music has been harmful for both the music marketplace and consumers? It's one of the few entirely vertical markets I can think of, but I would hardly call it harmful to either side. If anything, it's proved to be a benefit to both, since it seems to be allowing the RIAA to stay afloat while losing CD sales, promotes distribution of (and payment to) smaller labels and artists, and gives consumers a place to buy individual tracks or albums conveniently and at decent pr
      • Annnnd...of course, as soon as I posted this, I wish I could take it back. After all, Apple doesn't create its own content, but merely publishes that of others, so the case I just argued is a weaker vertical model than what you were describing.
        • by jmorris42 (1458) *

          No you were correct. Apple is just integrating two different sections of the supply chain. Comcast will be integrating NBC/Universal content with their distribution network but only lightly since Comcast has nowhere the footprint required for doing it like they would want to.

          Now look at Apple. They have very stongly integrated the hardware and condent distribution. If you have Apple hardware you are pretty locked to their CDN. Yes us nerds know how to put 3rd party content on an i* product but for most

    • I'd be happy if there were laws against the joining of Content and Distribution.

      The write to your representatives in Congress. The FCC regulates under the laws they have, not the laws you wish they had.

  • by BlueBoxSW.com (745855) on Friday December 24, 2010 @01:04PM (#34660646) Homepage

    Is what this is. Anticompetitive practices is what it is ALL about.

    They're not doing this to save money in their accounting offices.

    They're doing this so they can make life hard on other cable/internet providers.

    And that's exactly what will happen.

    If you don't want that to happen, this right here, is the moment in time to do something about it.

    • Consider the farmer. He owns his land, the equipment he uses to harvest his crops, the truck he uses to drive that product to the farmers’ market where he sells it directly to the consumer. Is that not vertical integration? 1:32 PM. Mark the time, ladies and gentlemen, that congress put a bullet in the head of the American farmer.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by BlueBoxSW.com (745855)

        I don't think you understand what vertical integration is.

        • by profplump (309017)

          I don't think _you_ understand what vertical integration is. Anytime you combine steps in the value chain of a single product/service that is vertical integration; combining production and distribution in farming is the very definition vertical integration, and it's literally the same set of steps being combined in an NBC/Comcast merger -- NBC controls production and Comcast controls distribution.

      • by celle (906675)

        "Consider the farmer. He owns his land, the equipment he uses to harvest his crops, the truck he uses to drive that product to the farmers' market where he sells it directly to the consumer."

        You left out that corporations control the markets where farmers get their money to rent the land(much of it) to farm their crops, buy the equipment from corporations, and transport most of the crop to corporations where some of it eventually ends up on your table. All of the described isn't done without

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        Now imagine how much of a problem that would be if there were only 4 farmers in the entire country who would willingly collude to prevent competition.

        • by unitron (5733)

          Okay, so besides Archer-Daniels-Midland and Cargill, who are the other two?

  • Extortion (Score:4, Insightful)

    by loafing_oaf (1054200) on Friday December 24, 2010 @01:13PM (#34660672)
    Why does every voting official, regardless of position, now demand some type of additional compensation in the form of concessions before they'll vote?
    • Why does every voting official, regardless of position, now demand some type of additional compensation in the form of concessions before they'll vote?

      "Now?"

      That is the fundamental basis of political negotiation. It's either that or autocracy.

    • Why does every voting official, regardless of position, now demand some type of additional compensation in the form of concessions before they'll vote?

      Um, what? Its not like Genachowski is asking for anything that goes to him personally. Its not asking for "additional compensation" to require that a company takes steps to do what the law requires you to assure that they do when approving a request before you will vote to approve the request.

  • Only one solution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PPH (736903) on Friday December 24, 2010 @01:18PM (#34660698)

    Split the content provider and the common carrier apart.

    • by reboot246 (623534)
      And I'd like to see the producers of content separated from the companies delivering the content.
    • Re:Only one solution (Score:4, Interesting)

      by digitalaudiorock (1130835) on Friday December 24, 2010 @03:05PM (#34661304)

      Split the content provider and the common carrier apart.

      You mean something like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Paramount_Pictures,_Inc [wikipedia.org].

      "United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc., 334 US 131 (1948) (also known as the Hollywood Antitrust Case of 1948, the Paramount Case, the Paramount Decision or the Paramount Decree) was a landmark United States Supreme Court anti-trust case that decided the fate of movie studios owning their own theatres and holding exclusivity rights on which theatres would show their films. It would also change the way Hollywood movies were produced, distributed, and exhibited. The Court held in this case that the existing distribution scheme was in violation of the antitrust laws of the United States, which prohibit certain exclusive dealing arrangements."

      Why is this country so hell bent on going backwards when it comes to corporate power and monopolies? I can't believe this merger was ever even considered by the feds, let alone treated as a done deal from the beginning as it has been.

      • by PPH (736903)

        Why is this country so hell bent on going backwards when it comes to corporate power and monopolies?

        Because they have a lot of money. And periodically threatening corporate interests is a great way for the politicians and lobbyists to milk them. You'd think by now that corporate America would be clamoring for campaign finance reform. But the K Street Klowns have got them by the balls.

        Past attempts at finding synergy between content and pipelines have ended in tears. Most companies operate these as separate profit centers anyway, so a mandated breakup wouldn't be that big a deal. But the think tanks have c

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They have the worst service and have been allowed to accumulate the Persian King's ransom they needed to buy NBC by overcharging CATV subscribers month after month, year after year. It's gotten so bad that they're trying to rebrand themselves as Xfinity, to try to wipe their slate clean in people's minds.

    Don't let them to do that. Make them spin off, or give back the ill gotten gains through dividends.

  • . . . to act first in their self-interest, just like any wild animal. That is the beauty of them. There is no true pretense of altruism or benevolence, and their words are merely a means to their goals. If Comcast determined that saying "my butt tastes like Godiva Chocolates" would get the FCC to approve this acquisition, it would be their new slogan.
  • block the transaction. concessions or not. comcast buying nbc SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED.

  • Just like ISP's and independent phone companies were supposed to be supposed to be provided w/equal access on telco-owned last-mile equipment...or ISP's were suppose to have similar to be able to compete against phone companies.

    Then along comes another anti-government GOP president, like Reagan, who dismantles all of those pesky 'consumer' protections to save us all [sic], and we enter a new 'golden age' of media control with married couples relegated to separate bed again. (a symptom of large media compan

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