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Comcast: NBC Universal Merger 'Pro Consumer'
Cable giant suddenly likes consumer rules protecting unfair 'prioritization'
by Karl Bode 04:35PM Friday Jan 08 2010
The Writers Guild, Consumer’s Union (owners of Consumer Reports), Common Cause and the National Organization for Women this week joined forces to oppose Comcast's $30 billion merger with NBC Universal. According to a joint letter by the groups, the merger "would have a devastating effect on the media marketplace." More interesting perhaps is how Comcast spokesperson Sena Fitzmaurice chose to address the concerns of these groups when speaking to The Wrap (well, after she pretends the deal is pro-consumer if you look at it "objectively"):
quote:
"Viewed objectively, the GE/Comcast NBCU transaction is pro-consumer and strongly in the public interest, and we look forward to making that case to Congress, the Justice Department, and the FCC," she told TheWrap. "There is absolutely no evidence that this proposed transaction would produce any of the adverse effects these groups claim the deal would cause. In fact, existing law already prohibits any discrimination by Comcast against other providers regarding programming we own and would preclude Comcast from "prioritizing" NBCU channels.
Fitzmaurice is claiming that the same sort of regulatory powers Comcast lawyers are currently trying to keep away from the Internet will protect TV customers from the anti-competitive impact of the NBC-Universal Comcast merger. So which is it? Either rules preventing anti-competitive prioritization of a company's own content are the worst wort of vile and burdensome regulation, or they help consumers. You don't get to have it both ways when trying to gain regulatory approval. Well ok, actually you do -- if you're wealthy enough and you have really good lobbyists, lawyers, and public relations representatives.

This isn't the first time Comcast has talked out of both sides of their mouth when it comes to consumer protection rules. You'll recall that Comcast's chief lobbying guru David L. Cohen recently tried to argue the company "honors and respects" the FCC's authority on network neutrality. Which, of course, is why they've spent the last two years in court trying to argue the FCC doesn't have any.

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maartena
Elmo
Premium
join:2002-05-10
Orange, CA
kudos:3

That'll be the day.

The day a company will actually voluntarily (as in: not mandated by law/government) setup a system that will protect the customers from themselves.... will be more or less the same day that hell freezes over, pigs fly, and whales drive a motorcycle.
--
"I reject your reality and substitute my own!"
gorehound

join:2009-06-19
Portland, ME

Re: That'll be the day.

Comcast is full of it.
they are not our friends they are there to take our cash.

SHK

@twtelecom.net

1 recommendation

Not Everything Is About Broadband

Shame on you Karl, fanning the sparks to start a net neutrality bonfire. The Comcast spokesperson obviously was talking about prioritizing NBCU's television channels on Comcast's cable systems, not prioritization on the Internet. The reference to an existing law that "prohibits any discrimination by Comcast against other providers regarding programming [it] own[s]" refers to the existing law that requires Comcast to sell its affiliated cable television networks to competing providers like DirecTV and AT&T. And the second reference refers to the existing law that prohibits Comcast from discriminating against unaffiliated prorgamming networks with respect to carriage on the cable systems. The DC Circuit case is all about whether there is any law at all about nondiscrimination on the Internet.

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Re: Not Everything Is About Broadband

Yes the 2 topics are separate. Comcast is in court fighting the FCC over Net Neutrality OPINIONS the FCC has and that has no law backing them up. And which apply to INTERNET access and NOT cable TV.

The comments made by Comcast spokesperson Sena Fitzmaurice address DOJ and FCC rules fully backed up by laws passed by Congress. So she is correct in what she says.
bngdup

join:2007-02-20
Old Bridge, NJ

Re: Not Everything Is About Broadband

And Im sure none of this has anything to do with the impending shift to IPTV........

Corportate PR statements always reflect the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

SWK2

@twtelecom.net

Re: Not Everything Is About Broadband

Sometimes they do, and more frequently so, especially now that we have people like Karl and others on the Internet to help scrutinize them, criticize them (whether accurate or not), and share them with everyone else.

karlmarx

join:2006-09-18
Chicago, IL

2 recommendations

"The real tragedy here is that politicians and fat cat executives, through their words and actions, tell the corporations that it is ok to steal, cheat, & lie - just don't get caught. And that is why policies to enforce citizens rights aren't working. We have a generation of corporations who have been taught that anything goes; morals are relative; and if caught hire a good politician to get out of it." (c)

(c) Copyright 2009 TKJunkMail/RetireRich
--
Remember 1 in 4 people are retarded. 25% of Americans are Republican. Coincidence? I don't think so.

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Re: Not Everything Is About Broadband

said by karlmarx:


Reworded for truth in advertising:

Politicians, through their words and actions, tell the people that it is ok to steal, cheat, & lie - just don't get caught. And that is why policies to enforce citizens rights aren't working. We have a generation of corporations who have been taught that anything goes; morals are relative; and if caught hire a good lawyer to get out of it."
Sounds like the election platform for the Democratic Party. And corporations are made up of the people brought up on this philosophy over the last 50 years.
--
My BLOG .. .. Internet News .. .. My Web Page


karlmarx

join:2006-09-18
Chicago, IL

1 recommendation

Re: Not Everything Is About Broadband

Hey, you made the original post. I'm just paraphrasing what you wrote.
jjeffeory

join:2002-12-04
USA
...and that doesn't make it right either!

tshirt
Premium,MVM
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:4
Reviews:
·Comcast
said by FFH:

Sounds like the election platform for the Democratic Party. And corporations are made up of the people brought up on this philosophy over the last 50 years.
I was with you/understanding...until you said that
The other major party (GOP, for those with short attention spans) has been far more in the forefront of pushing corporations rights over the rights of individuals. and (under GOP presidents/congresses/majoritiy terms) spent, pledged, and given away far more money and damaged rights of the average citizen, than this merger could ever do. (I think 5 years hindsight would be more than enough, but I said 50 to include the effects we NOW feel from previous admins)

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK

1 recommendation

/FAIL at political propaganda

bionicRod
Funkier than a mohair disco ball.
Premium
join:2009-07-06
united state
kudos:2
said by FFH:

said by karlmarx:


Reworded for truth in advertising:

Politicians, through their words and actions, tell the people that it is ok to steal, cheat, & lie - just don't get caught. And that is why policies to enforce citizens rights aren't working. We have a generation of corporations who have been taught that anything goes; morals are relative; and if caught hire a good lawyer to get out of it."
Sounds like the election platform for the Democratic Party. And corporations are made up of the people brought up on this philosophy over the last 50 years.
Sounds like the Republican party line too, except they're not smart enough not to get caught, so they get voted out en masse. Get over your political party and try thinking for yourself.
Sammer

join:2005-12-22
Canonsburg, PA

1 recommendation

said by SHK :

And the second reference refers to the existing law that prohibits Comcast from discriminating against unaffiliated prorgamming networks with respect to carriage on the cable systems.
Oh you mean the way they have always been so willing to sell Comcast SportsNet Philly to Dish and DirecTV. Comcast isn't acquiring NBC to be pro-consumer and anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool.
ImBatman

join:2004-04-21
Lancaster, CA
said by SHK :

Shame on you Karl, fanning the sparks to start a net neutrality bonfire. The Comcast spokesperson obviously was talking about prioritizing NBCU's television channels on Comcast's cable systems, not prioritization on the Internet. The reference to an existing law that "prohibits any discrimination by Comcast against other providers regarding programming [it] own[s]" refers to the existing law that requires Comcast to sell its affiliated cable television networks to competing providers like DirecTV and AT&T. And the second reference refers to the existing law that prohibits Comcast from discriminating against unaffiliated prorgamming networks with respect to carriage on the cable systems. The DC Circuit case is all about whether there is any law at all about nondiscrimination on the Internet.
Bottomline: Comcast is a lying sack of poodoo.
I dont care if Comcast sells toilet paper, I aint buying anything attached with that name.

ptrowski
Got Helix?
Premium
join:2005-03-14
Putnam, CT
kudos:4

Come on, it's great!

You don't like the idea of the delivery are also controlling the content? It's good for you according to some...

»Umm..Karl...

n2jtx

join:2001-01-13
Glen Head, NY

Laws?

Something is only illegal if you get caught. Besides, laws can be changed or overturned in court. I never trust the statement "protected by law" since it can change like the wind. Constitutional protections offer a bit more security but in the end we tend to disregard that document as well.
--
I support the right to keep and arm bears.
WernerSchutz

join:2009-08-04
Sugar Land, TX

Re: Laws?

Laws seem to me not to apply a lot to some corporations.
nishiko7
Premium
join:2007-05-01
Pleasant Hill, CA

1 edit

Well done again, Karl...

... love you and your smack-down articles like this!

Keep 'em coming! Don't let these companies get away with anything. Everything needs to be public. Sunshine changes everything... eventually.
macman4hire

join:2009-03-30
Port Saint Lucie, FL

1 edit

Sorry people it is just the why the system works!

First we will witness the Comcast NBC deal being completed. Shortly after that we will see Comcast lobbyists along with our elected officials making another "transparent" closed door deal to remove the consumer protections that the Comcast spokesperson Sena Fitzmaurice is stating would currently protect consumers. Sorry people it is just the why the system works!
MyDogHsFleas
Premium
join:2007-08-15
Austin, TX
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Mediacom

Wait, what?

quote:
Wait, what? Fitzmaurice is claiming that the same sort of regulatory powers Comcast lawyers are currently trying to eliminate in court are the very same rules that will protect you from the anti-competitive impact of the NBC-Universal Comcast merger.

No. The former is Internet-related ("network neutrality"), the latter is related to cable and broadcast industry regulation/law. Two different things.
chsteiger
Premium
join:2003-10-03
Pasadena, TX

Bye Bye Hulu!

I can tell you the first thing Comcast will do is restrict Hulu content to only their customers. No more free TV on the web! It amazes that a lot of people don't see a problem with content creator and content delivery company being the same company... there are so many BAD things that will happen!
Sammer

join:2005-12-22
Canonsburg, PA

Re: Bye Bye Hulu!

said by chsteiger:

I can tell you the first thing Comcast will do is restrict Hulu content to only their customers. No more free TV on the web! It amazes that a lot of people don't see a problem with content creator and content delivery company being the same company... there are so many BAD things that will happen!
Actually because other content providers are participants in Hulu another scenario might be more likely. Comcast may adopt the ISP subscription model the way Disney has for ESPN 360. It will still result in no more free (except piracy) TV on the web and even people who don't use Hulu will end up paying for it! Like you said, bad things will happen.
DigitalNC

join:2009-12-29
united state

Re: Bye Bye Hulu!

Maybe it will spark someone with the time, knowledge and resources to create a competing service.

dvd536
as Mr. Pink as they come
Premium
join:2001-04-27
Phoenix, AZ
kudos:4

Re: Bye Bye Hulu!

said by DigitalNC:

Maybe it will spark someone with the time, knowledge and resources to create a competing service.
hulu will naturally die when they begin charging.
--
When I gez aju zavateh na nalechoo more new yonooz tonigh molinigh - Ken Lee

jap
Premium
join:2003-08-10
038xx

Re: Bye Bye Hulu!

said by dvd536:

hulu will naturally die when they begin charging.
Precisely. Though a small chance they won't still exists.

fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2

Re: Bye Bye Hulu!

said by jap:

said by dvd536:

hulu will naturally die when they begin charging.
Precisely. Though a small chance they won't still exists.
They'll die either way. Do you really think that the few ads they put can pay their bills?

jap
Premium
join:2003-08-10
038xx

Re: Bye Bye Hulu!

said by fifty nine:

said by jap:

said by dvd536:

hulu will naturally die when they begin charging.
Precisely. Though a small chance they won't still exists.
They'll die either way. Do you really think that the few ads they put can pay their bills?
Erm, no, I don't really think so. Such would be exhibited by my use of "Precisely" and "small chance".

The TV/PC conversion and/or convergence is just beginning and it's a fools game to play the absolutist on how it will play out. Too many variables existing on too many levels: content/distro convergence in the overIP realm, viewer's continued patience with fixed-sched broadcasting rather true on-demand, rapidly changing consumer devices for viewing (eg: TV/PC convergence, projectors over big screen, very cheap and small streamer devices marrying PCs to projectors/home theatre (now with built-in Bittorrent )), the economy (continued badness will drive people to the bottom), and when do the funders of Hulu lose patience. Oh!, and conventional affiliate broadcasting is tremendously expensive bringing increased friction between networks and the stations who control access to market. But then what will Comcast "charge" ?

I don't think anyone knows where's this is going. Not the heads of networks, not the ISPs, not the FCC and certainly not us. But I'll still bet against Hulu. At least under the current 3-way network + Disney ownership. As a side note, Netflix's chances go up if Disney loses Hulu as an outlet.
raythompsontn

join:2001-01-11
Oliver Springs, TN

Comcast Prosumer?

Nothing Comcast does is for the consumer.
Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL

'Pro Consumer' in the same way that there cable card system

'Pro Consumer' in the same way that there cable card system is?

Like how even the price is not the same form area to area like some place have HD cable card fess and other do not same thing with outlet fee.

Will they pull the same carp like they do with VS?

but this time make so in area where there is no comcast you pay less for the channels but in comcast area they jack the rates up to other systems.

Do you want comcast to make NBC like CSN Philly?

Make the 2012 games cable only?

Make ND football comcast only?

Sunday Night football cable only / OTA (local teams area only)

Make NHL playoffs comcast only?

Make other comcast RSN go comcast only?

I don't want give up direct tv and go to comcarp shit hardware and higher prices with less hd to get Syfy, CSN Chicago / CSN + (at least there is hope there comcast only has 20% and it's a real good sports channel) USA, Bravo, and others?
DigitalNC

join:2009-12-29
united state

1 edit

NOTHING companies do is pro-consumer

Thats like saying our government programs dont waste tax-payer dollars.

Remember the XM / SIRIUS merger? It was going to be great for the consumer? Uh - yea. I'm back to terrestrial radio and loving it!

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness

Re: NOTHING companies do is pro-consumer

said by DigitalNC:

Thats like saying our government programs dont waste tax-payer dollars.

Remember the XM / SIRIUS merger? It was going to be great for the consumer? Uh - yea. I'm back to terrestrial radio and loving it!
Well to be honest if they didn't emrge you'd be back to terrestial radio becuse both companies would be out of business. Anyone looking at that situation logically and hoenstly knows neither would have survived if there wasn't a merger. Anyone that thinks otherwise is really being obtuse.
jfmezei
Premium
join:2007-01-03
Pointe-Claire, QC
kudos:23

Time Warner and Fox are the real precedent

Recently, FOX decided to focus on Time Warner Cable, demanding that TWC pay big bucks to get the FOX channels, and threathenin to stop sending FOX signals to Time Warner.

Comcast (cable) may behave admirably and be neutral. But consider that Comcast has the power to tell NBC to demand that DirectTV start paying the big bucks for NBC content (like Fox did for TWC).

So Comcast now has the power to force its competitors in TV distribution to pay mre for NBC content, while Comcast's cable operation will get NBC for free. This gives Comcast an unfair competitive advantage.

DvST8

join:2000-03-08
Staten Island, NY

2 edits

Re: Time Warner and Fox are the real precedent

Comacast did this to Directv with VS charging them more then what they charge the other cable providers so directv didn't renew the contract, before the whole Time Warner Fox thing.

"Comcast (cable) may behave admirably and be neutral" ??

Z80A
Premium
join:2009-11-23
That would be an antitrust violation and it the fastest way to a fine or worse. It's also the fastest way toward Congressional attention in an election cycle when the whores in the politburo scramble to look productive like they did going after the cigarette companies and Microsoft.

Morac
Cat god

join:2001-08-30
Riverside, NJ
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Comcast

Consumer is King

At least according to Brian Roberts (Comcast CEO) (05:30 and 7:07 in).

Funny I don't feel like royalty when dealing with Comcast.
--

The Comcast Disney Avatar has been retired.

Z80A
Premium
join:2009-11-23

Re: Consumer is King

You don't feel royally screwed with Comcast?
ebubman

join:2002-01-17
Mechanicsburg, PA

pro-consumer?

i think not. this merger means one things & one thing only--that consumers had best get ready to grab their ankles. consumers, from the comcast corporate perspective, are deemed a quasi-necessary annoyance en-route to profits.
33358088
Premium
join:2008-09-23
kudos:2

lets see

comcast makes deal with warner brothers

then merges with NBC

looks like i know what the USA will be watching in about 5 years time

bye bye fox