Michael Grotticelli /
12.04.2009 03:45 PM
Critics want Obama administration to stop Comcast-NBC deal

With cable giant Comcast taking a controlling stake in NBC Universal, the mega deal represents a new level of media consolidation that reaches across content creation and multiple distribution platforms. It wields enormous power over television and online content, as well as access to that content.

Comcast is the largest cable company and the second largest Internet service provider in the United States. NBC Universal has a huge stake in television, film, cable and TV programming, top-ranked broadcast television stations, and in Hulu, one of the largest online video services.

“Washington and Wall Street want the public to think this is a done deal,” said Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, an advocacy group. “But it’s time for policymakers to stop putting the narrow interests of big corporations ahead of what’s best for the American people.”

Free Press said it will organize a national campaign against the merger — rallying people who are tired of mega mergers being rubber-stamped by the government. “The only beneficiaries of this deal are the industry titans who already enjoy too much market power,” Silver said.

“If this deal goes through, Comcast would have control of marquee content and three major distribution platforms: Internet, broadcast and cable,” he said. “We’ve never seen this kind of consolidated control across so many platforms.”

FreePress released an analysis showing the merger will hurt competition in both traditional and emerging video markets, and it will trigger more media consolidation, causing consumer choice to be restricted and prices to rise.

Others opposing the deal are the Consumer Federation of America and the Communications Workers of America, which represents employees at Comcast and NBC.

A merger would “eliminate” any competitive rivalry between Comcast and NBC, which has begun posting some video on the Internet, said Dr. Mark Cooper, director of research for the Consumer Federation of America.

“The simpler and more direct way to preserve competition is to just say ‘no,’” Cooper said.



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