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TW, Comcast Launch 'TV Everywhere'

The nation’s two largest cable companies this week announced the launch of “TV Everywhere,” a service that will extend their cable content to their broadband subscribers.

Technical trials will begin in July with 5,000 Comcast customers gaining access to content on Time Warner’s TBS and TNT channels on their computers and as well as the same channels’ VOD content on their cable service.

“Today’s announcement is all about giving our customers exponentially more free content, more choice and more HD programming online as well as on TV,” said Comcast Chairman Brian Roberts. “We are thrilled that Time Warner is joining us in our technical trial. Ultimately our goal is to make TV content available to our customers on all platforms.”

The companies said the service is open and non-exclusive; cable, satellite and telco video distributors can enter into similar agreements with other programmers.

The plan deviates from the Hulu paradigm, in which several major networks have made their programming available free online for broadband subscribers. It was also criticized by net neutrality advocates, who warned that the service could be “anti-competitive.”

“We are disappointed but not surprised at the announcement by Comcast and Time Warner. It is obvious that their ‘TV Everywhere’ is not TV for Everyone,” said Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge. “Limiting access to programming is straight out of the cable playbook, going back to the days when Congress had to act in 1992 to allow the satellite programming distributors to have access to cable programming. This new version raises substantial anti-competitive issues by restricting the availability of programming to the favored distribution methods.”

Sohn said the service violates the openness of the Internet. “By adding this additional toll lane, Comcast and Time Warner want to create their own ‘managed channel’ within the Internet and turn the Internet into their own private cable channel.”