The Federal Communications Commission voted 4-1 on Tuesday to approve the merger of broadband Internet/cable service provider Comcast and NBC Universal, which owns 234 local TV stations, the NBC network, Universal movie studio, Universal theme parks, Telemundo, and cable nets MSNBC, CNBC, USA, Bravo, E!, and G4. (Not to mention the Philadelphia Flyers and Philadelphia 76ers.)
Great news for Comcast, not so good for a bunch of other people.
1) Comcast’s Competitors
From the Wall Street Journal:
At issue is a condition proposed by the Federal Communications Commission that would require Comcast to offer NBC programming to any online video service that has reached a similar deal for content from at least one of NBC’s competitors, such as Walt Disney Co. or News Corp.
Lobbyists for both Disney and News Corp., along with Time Warner Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes, have been voicing their concerns this week with the FCC, worried that such conditions could undermine their own efforts to profit from the nascent online video industry. News Corp. owns The Wall Street Journal.
People familiar with the matter say the media companies are concerned that the rules would interfere with their own negotiations with online providers like Netflix Inc. or Apple Inc. and could have a range of unknown consequences for their business.
2) Comcast’s Customers
From the Huffington Post:
You should be afraid and mad as hell.
The new Comcast will control an obscene number of media outlets, including the NBC broadcast network, numerous cable channels, two dozen local NBC and Telemundo stations, movie studios, online video portals, and the physical network that distributes that media content to millions of Americans through Internet and cable connections.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts called it “a proud and exciting day for Comcast,” and showered Obama’s FCC and DoJ with praise.
Culmination of the deal, combined with the FCC’s recent, loophole-ridden “Net Neutrality” rules, 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. We’ll all end up paying more — whether you’re a Comcast subscriber or not.
3) Democracy Itself
From ars technica:
[Dissenting FCC Commissioner Michael] Copps’ statement after the vote is stuffed with some truly inspired ranting. One bit in particular stands out:
The Comcast-NBCU joint venture opens the door to the cable-ization of the open Internet. The potential for walled gardens, toll booths, content prioritization, access fees to reach end users, and a stake in the heart of independent content production is now very real.
As for the future of America’s news and journalism, I see nothing in this deal to address the fundamental damage that has been inflicted by years of outrageous consolidation and newsroom cuts. Investigative journalism is not even a shell of its former self. All of this means it’s more difficult for citizens to hold the powerful accountable. It means thousands of stories go unwritten. It means we never hear about untold instances of business corruption, political graft and other chicanery; it also means we don’t hear enough about all the good things taking place in our country every day.
The slight tip of the hat that the applicants have made toward some very limited support of local media projects does not even begin to address the core of the problem. Given that this merger will make the joint venture a steward of the public’s airwaves as a broadcast licensee, I asked for a major commitment of its resources to beef up the news operation at NBC. That request was not taken seriously. Increasing the quantity of news by adding hours of programming is no substitute for improving the quality of news by devoting the necessary resources.
Make no mistake: what is at stake here is the infrastructure for our national conversation—the very lifeblood of American democracy. We should be moving in precisely the opposite direction of what this Commission approves today.
But we’re not.
So . . .
Get used to it?
Or get mad as hell?
The hardworking staff lays plenty of 8-5 it’s the former.