FCC Approves Comcast/NBC Universal Merger, 4-1
January 18, 2011 at 12:01 PM (PT)
The FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION has signed off on COMCAST's acquisition of NBC UNIVERSAL, reports the WASHINGTON POST. Democrat MICHAEL COPPS cast the lone dissenting vote against the joint venture, which puts the two parties' massive library of television shows and movies under the control of the nation's biggest cable and broadband ISP.
The combined entity will have 16.7 million broadband subscribers, almost 23 million cable customers and dozens of cable channels such as USA, BRAVO, MSNBC and CNBC.
The JUSTICE DEPT., which earlier okayed the deal in an antitrust review, is expected to announce its own approval with conditions aimed at keeping COMCAST-NBCU from quashing competition from other networks and ISPs.
FCC Chairman JULIUS GENACHOWSKI agreed to the joint venture only after COMCAST promised to add 1,000 hours of news and informational programming to some channels, contribute $20 million in venture funds for minority programs, and $9.95 broadband Internet service for low-income households. Other stipulations, which is purported to be announced shortly, include COMCAST's promise to share content at fair prices with competitors, to allow small cable providers to see arbitration in program access disputes, and allow other networks to get similar treatment as NBC shows so as not to give preference to some content over others.
On his dissent, COPPS complained that the merger puts too much power into one company and would have too many potential conflicts. It "reaches into virtually every corner of our media and digital landscapes and will affect every citizen in the land," COPPS said in a statement. "All the majority’s efforts -- diligent though they were -- to ameliorate these harms cannot mask the truth that this COMCAST-NBCU joint venture grievously fails the public interest."