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Dems Worry About '7 C's' of Comcast-NBC Deal
Despite the fact they'll probably approve it anyway...
by Karl Bode 08:11AM Friday Feb 05 2010 Tipped by FFH See Profile
Comcast yesterday spent yesterday tauting the supposed benefits of their merger with NBC, while lawmakers worried about the competitive impact of an increasingly massive Comcast. Representative Edward Markey, D-Mass., a senior member of the House Commerce subcommittee on communications and technology, made a bit of a funny, stating that issue "really boils down to the seven C's." "Will this combination of communications colossi curtail competition and cost consumers?," he asked. Senator Al Franken meanwhile worried about a company controlling both the content and the distribution mechanism:
quote:
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said he is worried about the dangers of allowing the nation's largest cable and broadband provider to take control of NBC Universal's vast media empire. "When the same company produces the programs and runs the pipes that bring us those programs, we have a reason to be nervous," said Franken, a comedian who spent nearly two decades as a writer and performer for NBC's "Saturday Night Live."
Despite the concerns, it seems highly unlikely that the deal won't be approved. While there may be conditions, if you've followed conditions in mega-merger telecom land, usually said conditions look very pro-consumer from a distance, but often fail to provide substantive anti-competitive protection. Meanwhile, NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker is taking a bit of heat, with some saying he lied to Congress about Hulu's decision to block Boxee last year. The newly merged company would involve Comcast taking some control of Hulu, though Comcast insists they won't use the opportunity to gut the growing Internet video operator to protect cable TV revenues and their own "Xfinity" online video plans.

You can read the full testimony of Comcast CEO Brian Roberts over at the Comcast blog. You can also watch Senator Al Franken grill Roberts (essentially accusing him of lying) via YouTube.

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baineschile
2600 ways to live
Premium
join:2008-05-10
Sterling Heights, MI

2 edits

2 recommendations

Protecting Assets

quote:
Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., a senior member of the House Commerce subcommittee on communications and technology, made a bit of a funny, stating that issue "really boils down to the seven C's." "Will this combination of communications colossi curtail competition and cost consumers?,"


Can Comcast conjure cunning claims to convice the communications committee?

Edit: Sorry...its early...

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

Re: Protecting Assets

said by baineschile:

quote:
Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., a senior member of the House Commerce subcommittee on communications and technology, made a bit of a funny, stating that issue "really boils down to the seven C's." "Will this combination of communications colossi curtail competition and cost consumers?,"


Can Comcast conjure cunning claims to convice the communications committee?

Edit: Sorry...its early...
LOL. Very good - you got 8C's in your reply. You beat Markey's 7C's by one.
nasadude

join:2001-10-05
Rockville, MD
the only "c" congress is interested in is the $c note. you can convince them to do anything with enough of those.

PapaMidnight

join:2009-01-13
Baltimore, MD
Well, Senator Franken said it best:

quote:
"In other words, looking to get approval for this merger, you sat there in my office and told me to my face that these rules would protect consumers, but your lawyers had just finished arguing in front of the Commission that it would be unconstitutional to apply these rules."

jbwhite99

join:2005-03-22
Raleigh, NC

Re: Protecting Assets

can Al Franken, who appeared on NBC's Saturday Night Live for 15+ years, be partial on this vote?

nerdburg
Premium
join:2009-08-20
Schuylkill Haven, PA
kudos:1

What?!

Comcast has always been a decent and forthright company. They would NEVER act in a deceptive manner, nor use their market position to unfairly gain an advantage over the competition. We should trust them to do the right thing.

That was really hard to say with a straight face.
--
[Insert Comcast employee disclaimer here.]
OwlSaver
OwlSaver
Premium
join:2005-01-30
Berwyn, PA

2 recommendations

How long before we hear "Comcast is too bigt to fail!'

Haven't we as a country and a world had too much of these ever growing mega companies? When things go south (probably because of poor management decisions) the US Tax Payer will be called on to bail them out.

I feel like I am living in Alice's Wonderland. Barely a year after the bank bailouts, our regulatory system is going to let this happen. Soon we will have three companies (my guess is Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T) control all the distribution and production. Then we will hear the too big to fail call.

FFH
Premium
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Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Re: How long before we hear "Comcast is too big to fail!'

said by OwlSaver:

Haven't we as a country and a world had too much of these ever growing mega companies? When things go south (probably because of poor management decisions) the US Tax Payer will be called on to bail them out.n. Then we will hear the too big to fail call.
I wouldn't worry about Comcast and the "too big to fail" issue. Comcast is an MSO(Multi-system Operator) and is already run as a bunch of smaller subsidiaries. It would be much easier to break-up and be run as a bunch of smaller companies if the need ever arose.
OwlSaver
OwlSaver
Premium
join:2005-01-30
Berwyn, PA

Re: How long before we hear "Comcast is too big to fail!'

Banks are actually very similar. They operate independently in each state and the Mortgage, Trust, and Securities operations are also usually separated. But, when they wanted lots of money, they were treated as one unit.

For example, CitiGroup could have easily shut down its securities operations and rid itself of all the "Toxic Assets". This would have left the remaining %70 in tact. But, that is not what they or the regulators did.

This may never come to pass. But, it sure seems like we have not learned from recent history.
MaynardKrebs
Heave Steve, for the good of the country
Premium
join:2009-06-17
kudos:4
said by FFH:

said by OwlSaver:

Haven't we as a country and a world had too much of these ever growing mega companies? When things go south (probably because of poor management decisions) the US Tax Payer will be called on to bail them out.n. Then we will hear the too big to fail call.
I wouldn't worry about Comcast and the "too big to fail" issue. Comcast is an MSO(Multi-system Operator) and is already run as a bunch of smaller subsidiaries. It would be much easier to break-up and be run as a bunch of smaller companies if the need ever arose.

You mean like breaking it up into separate companies like Comcast & NBC ?
Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1

Re: How long before we hear "Comcast is too bigt to fail!'

the difference being Comcast makes money, the banks outright scam it from the tax payers so they can payout bonuses while still not lending to anyone.
--
[65 Arcanist]Filan(High Elf) Zone: Broadband Reports

Rick
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-06
Waterbury, CT

Back when I was younger..

NBC meant a whole lot more than it does today.
There is so much media content out there and channels and other sources to get ones news and entertainment from that I simply have to disagree with any arguments that this will be an over controlling sort of merger in any way. If anything..I think it's something that helps insure the survival of NBC and the many people they employ and opens some new areas of opportunities for all concerned.

I honestly have to say, as big a fan I am of Comcast..it's something I'm really on the fence about in supporting their decision to even proceed with this. For them to be willing in this economy to pay this much money for what is something that is so rapidly changing in terms of being significant leaves me wondering if GE executives aren't running secretly smiling all the way to the bank to even be unloading it. Comcast has grown their core businesses and now things like CDV by leaps and bounds and for them to be moving and diversifying away from what has been working so well for them..to move into something like this..just can't help but to give me great pause.
And not for the reasons the politicians are concerned. But for the health and direction of Comcast themselves. I don't think it's comparable to what occurred with aol and time warner but
something almost in reverse. And it just can't help but to leave me wondering if it's a road they just simply shouldn't go down at all. And turn back from and abandon completely.

NBC has some valuable assets who are clearly leaders in their markets. Things like CNBC and others certainly will make a decent addition to the company. But this is a LOT of money to be paying for the things that come along with all that. And things that are more or less easily duplicated with all the content already out there.

I think that Comcast should do one of two things. Either go back to the bargaining table and say they'll pay them half what they previously offered..and not a dime more. Because there is simply too much risk here.

Or..they should walk away and proceed on their own.

NBC is one bride I think i'd leave standing at the altar.
Alone.
--
The Coyote captured the RR! Roadrunner Rick is now Comcastic!

FFH
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Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Re: Back when I was younger..

said by Rick:

I think that Comcast should do one of two things. Either go back to the bargaining table and say they'll pay them half what they previously offered..and not a dime more. Because there is simply too much risk here.

Or..they should walk away and proceed on their own.

NBC is one bride I think i'd leave standing at the altar.
Alone.
It probably is NOT a good investment by Comcast. I agree with you that Comcast would be better off without this particular deal. More of their money would be better spent on the wireless arena. Some of their money is going there, but they could really become a big player in wireless if instead they used the money they will spend on NBC.
backness

join:2005-07-08
K2P OW2

Re: Back when I was younger..

I agree, if we use rogers cable TV up in Canada as the model,

They have 80 stations and they are all crap. What do you think cable companies know about content?

This sounds like a managment accountatns wet dream. Either we bill the crap out of comcast or we charge below market rates to comcast to make artifical gains while gutting the programming even further.

Thunk

@comcast.net
your almost right. Whats NBC got that comcast could want is what you have to ask yourself.

More TV Shows? NOPE. CNBC and other channels? NOPE.

In fact o don't think comcast give a rats A$$ about NBC other than the one thing they have that comcast wants.

That's the Spectrum that NBC Controls. Now what comcast plans to do with it well .....I'll let you all figure that one out

n2jtx

join:2001-01-13
Glen Head, NY

If This Merger Is Approved...

We will all be here one year after the merger comparing notes about how everything we were told was not going to happen is happening. Just like Fairpoint and all the other "pie-in-the-sky" mergers that benefit only the lawyers and the top executives.
--
I support the right to keep and arm bears.
Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL

Do you want sci-fi and others to go the way of CSN philly?

Do you want sci-fi and others to go the way of CSN philly?
where they are cable only and comcast only in areas where comcast has cable tv?

comcast sucks next to direct tv and they don't let them have CSN phlliy.

Do you want NBC to go cable only?

2012 Olympics cable only?

Sunday night foot ball (may be saved by the NFL)

stanley cup games cable only?

I just hope the Chicago teams stand up and force them to keep CSN Chi / CSN Chi + on all area cable systems and direct tv and dish as they have 80% of the network.

tshirt
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join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
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Reviews:
·Comcast

1 recommendation

"When the same company produces...

"When the same company produces the programs and runs the pipes that bring us those programs, we have a reason to be nervous,"
How is this different then the Broadcast model?
NBC produced those programs and also ran the broadcast network that distributed that content.
Under ComCast , NBC will still be competing with other content providers, for the most eyeballs, and comcast will still want to have the most cable channels available to draw in more customers.
I can't see this greatly changing the competitive TV landscape in the near future.

Bill Dollar

join:2009-02-20
New York, NY

1 recommendation

Re: "When the same company produces...

"How is this different then the Broadcast model? NBC produced those programs and also ran the broadcast network that distributed that content."

Well, this is precisely the concern. Much of Senator Franken's questioning yesterday had to do with NBC's promises prior to the elimination of the "FinSyn" (Financial Interest in Syndication) Rules. Prior to the elimination of FinSyn in the early 1990's, NBC was prevented from owning much of the content aired on its network. As a result, the amount of quality independently produced content was high. NBC (and other networks) promised to keep it this way once the rules were gutted, but they lied. Now we have a situation where Carsey-Warner-style programming is replaced with Biggest Loser.

But the larger concern here is that Comcast, now owning marquee programming, will stick it to their competitors (Dish, Direc, FiOS, U-Verse), much as Disney does with ESPN, and our rates will rise even higher.

jseymour

join:2009-12-11
Waterford, MI

Plenty of history to demonstrate this is a Bad Idea

quote:
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said he is worried about the dangers of allowing the nation's largest cable and broadband provider to take control of NBC Universal's vast media empire. "When the same company produces the programs and runs the pipes that bring us those programs, we have a reason to be nervous," said Franken...

I have a hard time taking Franken seriously, but he's got this one right. One would have thought the government would've learned something from the ILEC fiascos: I.e.: A situation where the same company controlled both the services and the means of delivering those services. It would be akin to Marathon, for example, owning all the fuel tankers and gas stations promising they won't discriminate against Shell.

Yeah, right

Purely on principle: I think this is a Very Bad Idea. Not that I care about NBC. NBC has driven itself so far into the ground with bad decisions that, were it to disappear off the face of the planet tomorrow, I'm not sure anybody would notice. But if we let Comcast own NBC, then, what, let SBC buy ABC? VZ buy Fox?

Better NBC die and go away than end-up owned by Comcast. Nothing against Comcast, per se. I'd say the same were it SBC, VZ, Sprint or whatever.

said by tshirt:

How is this different then the Broadcast model?
NBC produced those programs and also ran the broadcast network that distributed that content.
First of all: That's not quite accurate. Other than "news" and sports, the commercial networks actually produce little of their own content. Secondly: The commercial networks own few, if any, of the local broadcast stations. Local stations are usually affiliates, and can change affiliations, as their contracts allow, at will.

Do you really believe the quality of NBC's OTA content (such as it is) will not suffer as a result of Comcast's purchase of the network?

Jim

Bill Dollar

join:2009-02-20
New York, NY

Re: Plenty of history to demonstrate this is a Bad Idea

quote:
First of all: That's not quite accurate. Other than "news" and sports, the commercial networks actually produce little of their own content. Secondly: The commercial networks own few, if any, of the local broadcast stations.
Well, not really. Zucker mentioned yesterday that 60 percent of NBC Network's content is produced/owned by NBCU.

And NBC O&Os reach about 36 percent of the U.S. audience. Fox reaches over 40 percent. CBS is in the low 30 percent.

tshirt
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join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Comcast
said by jseymour:

First of all: That's not quite accurate. Other than "news" and sports, the commercial networks actually produce little of their own content. Secondly: The commercial networks own few, if any, of the local broadcast stations. Local stations are usually affiliates, and can change affiliations, as their contracts allow, at will.

Do you really believe the quality of NBC's OTA content (such as it is) will not suffer as a result of Comcast's purchase of the network?

Jim
NBC (actually ANY cable, OTA or online content site orders/ produces /oversees ALL of their content).
A show with low viewership doesn't last long, and one with excellent ratings may last many seasons and live on in syndication earning the producers, cast and current right holders million$.
What the network gains for their billion$ of investments is the occasional "must see" show, which drives ad revenue, and also the resale/rebroadcast value. So YES the price to other cable satellite rebroadcasters MAY go up IF NBC has quality/desirable content, OR down if all they buy/produce/show are info-merial grade shows. Same applies no matter who owns them.
AND several valuable buttons on my remote allow me to change channels or even turn the TV off. which in aggregate directly effects the price/value of a given channel/show/providers offerings.
Yes the cost MAY be slightly driven up by the high (excessive) value CC is offering GE, but that would happen no matter who buys them.
So NO I do not believe NBC being owned by ComCast will influence the greatly cost over the next 5-10 years, and beyond that it's a crap shoot as to the value of a traditional tv broadcast network which could be near zero as IPTV and near ubiquitous Wi-Fi and broadband allow users to pick and chose programming in a more ala carte type fashion
caco
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join:2005-03-10
Whittier, AK

a word from our sponsor

»blog.comcast.com/2010/02/top-iss···deo.html

"In addition to traditional antitrust and fair competition principles, a combination like this one is also governed by the FCC’s program access and program carriage rules. Over the last week (and at the hearings) some people asked whether we’re being consistent in saying the program access rules will help ensure competition, while at the same time we have filed a court appeal of certain portions of those rules. The short answer is that there is no inconsistency in our position. We have argued and believe that today’s marketplace is sufficiently competitive to do away with those rules, but we have strong reasons to compete fairly whether the rules are in effect or not. We don’t intend to behave any differently than we have under the rules and we’re willing to accept a condition that we abide by those rules, even if the court declares them invalid."
--
Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed regularly, and for the same reason.
Sammer

join:2005-12-22
Canonsburg, PA

Re: a word from our sponsor

said by caco:

»blog.comcast.com/2010/02/top-iss···deo.html

"In addition to traditional antitrust and fair competition principles, a combination like this one is also governed by the FCC’s program access and program carriage rules. Over the last week (and at the hearings) some people asked whether we’re being consistent in saying the program access rules will help ensure competition, while at the same time we have filed a court appeal of certain portions of those rules. The short answer is that there is no inconsistency in our position. We have argued and believe that today’s marketplace is sufficiently competitive to do away with those rules, but we have strong reasons to compete fairly whether the rules are in effect or not. We don’t intend to behave any differently than we have under the rules and we’re willing to accept a condition that we abide by those rules, even if the court declares them invalid."
Talk about BS!

rjdriver

@cox.net

Re: a word from our sponsor

>BS

Exactly!

There is no competition in the rebroadcasting arena. You have at most three choices: Cable, FIOS, and Satellite. In many places, there's only two of the three, and in some places just one. That's an oligopoly at best, and often a monopoly.

As for the TV networks and their conglomerate owners, since broadcasting was deregulated in the 80s, they have been getting paid from both ends - the advertisers *and* the viewers who use a rebroadacaster. And just like in the cereal isle at the supermarket, you have the illusion of competition because there are so many choices. But when you look closer you realize that, both in cereal and TV networks, 99 % of those choices are controlled by 3 or 4 companies. There may never be true competitoin in the TV network business, but A La Carte pricing at the rebroadcast end might help the lower the bill for the consumer.

Comcast will get an immediate benefit from ownership of NBC - they will no longer have to pay for the privilege of carrying their signal. Will that cost savings get passed on to their subscribers? Not likely. Will they take advantage of that ownership, and charge other rebroadcasters even more than NBC did for the privilege of carrying their signal? Very likely, unless the FCC finds a way to insure they don't.

That whole industry needs a much closer examination, and the resulting regulation that common sense tells us all is necessary. Will the FCC do it? Doubtful, but there is a new commissioner, so we'll see.
zed2608
Premium
join:2007-09-30
Cleveland, TN
kudos:1

only way id support a comcast takeover of nbc is if

they had a condiation of the agrement to elimnate bandwith caps within 5 years on there internet other then that nothing could make me support it

Bill Neilson
Premium
join:2009-07-08
Arlington, VA

It worries me that Comcast will sooner or later

take their services, cut them off from anyone else, and mark up their prices considerably
tmc8080

join:2004-04-24
Brooklyn, NY

new name

cancel competition
clearly collusive
closeout competition
countdown to cbs (being owned by a cable company).

FastiBook

join:2003-01-08
Newtown, PA

Did no one learn.....

Did no one learn from AOL+TW?

- A
--
LETS GO METS!