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Comcast Agrees to Pay FCC $800,000 in NBCU Merger Settlement

WASHINGTON: The Federal Communications Commission said it adopted a consent decree resolving the investigation of Comcast’s compliance with its broadband-related merger conditions. Comcast will pay the commission an $800,000 “voluntary contribution,” and extend its broadband-only option for a year.

Among other conditions in the order approving Comcast’s acquisition of a majority of NBC Universal, the commission required Comcast “to continue to offer standalone broadband Internet access services at reasonable prices and with sufficient bandwidth to customers who do not subscribe to Comcast’s video cable services,” the settlement announcement said.

“Specifically, the commission required Comcast to offer standalone broadband services on terms equivalent to packages that bundle broadband and video cable service. Comcast was ordered to offer a broadband service with a download speed of at least 6 mbps at a price no greater than $49.95 for three years.”

Comcast is prohibited from raising prices on the required broadband service for two years.

The media conglomerate also had to “visibly offer and actively market” the standalone broadband service.

“After receiving information suggesting that Comcast was not adequately marketing its standalone broadband services, the [FCC Enforcement] Bureau thoroughly investigated Comcast’s compliance with the merger condition. Comcast responded fully to the bureau’s investigation,” the FCC said.

“Under the terms of the consent decree, Comcast must continue to offer its “Performance Starter” service until at least Feb, 21, 2015, representing a one-year extension beyond the requirement in the Comcast-NBCU Order.” The company must also train customer service reps to offer the starter package, conduct a “major advertising promotion” of it in 2013, and offer it to third-party retailers for resale.

The commission said the decree represented the first in its history to extend a merger condition.