Comcast Wins Government Approval to Take Over NBC

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ComcastThe federal government on Tuesday gave Comcast Corp., the country's largest cable company, the green light to take over NBC Universal, home of the NBC television network.

Comcast is buying a 51 percent stake in NBC Universal from General Electric Co. for $13.8 billion in cash and assets.

The Justice Department said it reached a settlement with Comcast and NBC Universal that allows the companies to proceed with the deal, subject to some conditions.

The five-member Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday voted 4-1 to approve the deal. Michael Copps, one of the commission's three Democrats and an opponent of media consolidation, voted against the deal.

With the transaction certain to transform the entertainment industry landscape, both the FCC and Justice Department are attaching conditions to prevent Comcast from trampling competitors once it takes control of NBC's vast media empire.

Among other things, they're requiring Comcast to make NBC programming available to competitors including rival cable companies, satellite operators and new Internet video services that could pose a threat to Comcast's core cable business. Regulators want to ensure that emerging online video platforms being developed by companies such as Netflix Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. can get the movies and TV shows they need to grow - and potentially offer a cheaper alternative to monthly cable subscriptions.

Philadelphia-based Comcast has about 23 million cable TV subscribers and nearly 17 million Internet subscribers. It also owns a handful of cable channels, including E! Entertainment and the Golf Channel, and has a controlling interest in the Philadelphia 76ers and Flyers sports teams. Comcast's SportsNet Philadelphia channel carries Flyers, Phillies and 76ers games.

Taking over NBC will transform the company into a media powerhouse. NBC Universal owns the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks; 26 local TV stations; popular cable channels including CNBC, Bravo and Oxygen; the Universal Pictures movie studio and theme parks; and a roughly 30 stake in Hulu.com, which distributes NBC and other broadcast programming online.

The regulatory approvals establish an arbitration process to resolve disputes between Comcast and competitors who want to buy programming. They prohibits Comcast from withholding programming during negotiations - a practice that broadcasters have been using recently to extract higher fees from cable companies.

A handful of other conditions are designed to ensure that Comcast cannot stifle the growth of the fledgling Internet video market by starving the new industry for content. One requires the company to offer its programming to legitimate Internet video providers on the same terms and conditions that it offers other pay-TV providers. Another requires the company to make comparable programming available at comparable prices to an Internet video provider that has reached an agreement to buy programming from another media company.

Yet another condition requires Comcast to continue offering an affordable, standalone broadband option for customers who want Internet access but not TV service. This condition, too, is intended help drive the growth of online video by allowing consumers to cancel their cable subscriptions without losing their Internet connections.

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nasirijaz82

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January 19 2011 at 3:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
goman89b

Many corporations now bring in more money every year than ENTIRE COUNTRIES. Media conglomerates are some of the biggest companies in the world.

Often these monopoly-like corporations are invested in much more than media including defense, mining and energy interests worldwide.

Owning stock in companies that build products for mining, deforest, participate in warfare, exploit resources in foreign countries, invest in private prisons etc. makes it extremely difficult for these invested media companies to report fairly foreign affairs, warfare, environmental destruction, labor abuses and other issues.

If their foreign operations are being manged irresponsibly....exploiting, polluting, destroying land, water, forests and people it will be increasingly difficult for these companies to report on these issues in an unbiased fashion. Many media companies are also invested in the private prison industry. How can these media giants report fairly on prison abuse when they themselves are owners of these prisons?

I've noticed over the last 20 years that there is less and less reporting in the mainstream television media concerning environmental destruction from resource extraction and the resulting damage to land, water, forests and people....especially in foreign countries. This is likely because our media monopolies are heavily invested in these foreign ventures.

Nature tells us that diversity is healthy, this likely holds true in business/media also. Big does not automatically equal good, or successful. Sometimes being big leads to inefficiency, censorship, abuse, waste, poor management and extinction.

Below are links and a PARTIAL list of G.E.'s investments outside of owning media outlets and news reporting: (it's likely that NBC and Comcast also are invested in other industries).

http://www.geoilandgas.com/

http://www.ge.com/railservices/industries/paperforestry.html

http://www.ge.com/mining/

http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/ge-buys-smiths-aerospace-for-48b-02955/

http://www.gepower.com/prod_serv/products/nuclear_energy/en/index.htm

HERE ARE LINKS CONCERNING THE INCREASING CONCENTRATION OF THE MEDIA IN THE U.S.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concentration_of_media_ownership

http://www.articleworld.org/index.php/Concentration_of_media_ownership

http://www.moveon.org/moveonbulletin/bulletin7.html

http://www.vii.org/papers/medconc.htm

http://www.mediachannel.org/ownership/front.shtml

January 18 2011 at 6:39 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Ben Rodriguez

As an ex employee. Comcast does this on the backs of their employees, yet strips them of the benefits they are do and deserve. I was 6 mos. from retirement and they did away with med. coverage for retirees. They offer no protection and refuse to let their workforce unionize.

January 18 2011 at 5:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mikio067

Oh goody, maybe this is the beginning of the end of Countdown with KO.

January 18 2011 at 5:17 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mikio067's comment
alinskysucks

He can always get a job at NPR... They have a couple of new openings... And nobody will listen to him there either...

January 18 2011 at 5:21 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
notoobamaagenda

Comcast should do the right thing and fire Chris Mathews, Olbermann, Madcow, Fat Ed, Scarborough, O'Donnell and the rest of the Radical Lefts whom lie and make up the news daily.........MSNBC CIRCUS ACT BEING IN BED WITH OBAMA HAS SUNK GE.

January 18 2011 at 5:05 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
bodyceo

WE can only hope Comcast will clean up the stinky armpit of America known as NBD- Nothing but Democrats

January 18 2011 at 4:57 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
richtier28

the politicians sold out the little person again. comcast can now ----- us even more

January 18 2011 at 4:44 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Dave and Judy

If Comcast doesn't get rid of those morons on MSNBC, I will find a new cable provider.

January 18 2011 at 4:37 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dave and Judy's comment
jeff schwab

Must be an O'rielly fan. That bum and the rest of the crew at fox news would be working for the little guy with the mustach in the thirties.

January 18 2011 at 4:53 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
blfintommy

The gang at MSNBC can put their heads between their legs and kiss their butts good-bye

January 18 2011 at 4:33 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
geordi13

Watch how fast Comcast circumvents the "conditions" put on it by the FCC. They'll make Hitler's destruction of the Weimar republic after becoming Chancellor look like slow motion.

January 18 2011 at 4:27 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply