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Watchdogs Want Feds to Scrutinize TV Everywhere

WASHINGTON: Several public interest groups intend to implore the Justice Department to investigate TV Everywhere, the initiative by cable, satellite and telco TV operators to provide multiplatform video access to certain subscribers. The Washington Post reports that Free Press and other public advocate groups intended to fire letters off today to Justice and the Federal Trade Commission seeking a probe of the initiative, which they say will allow the pay TV providers to control online access to television content.

Comcast launched trails of its version of TV Everywhere last month under the name “xfinity.tv.” The service is limited to Comcast subscribers who buy both digital cable and broadband service. Time Warner Cable and other providers are expected to launch similar beta services in the coming months. The watchdog groups allege collusion by the pay TV providers involved, and say it will stifle competition from other nascent TV content sites like Hulu.com.

The cable industry’s lobbyist in Washington, D.C. said the initiative merely allows subscribers to access content they already pay for on a second platform. However, the request for the probe comes just as Comcast is seeking regulatory approval for its $30 billion merger with NBC Universal, as well as a federal court case involving online content. Oral arguments are scheduled Friday on Comcast’s appeal of a ruling that prohibited it from blocking BitTorrent on its network.

The full article, “Public interest groups call for antitrust probe of TV Everywhere,” is at The Washington Post.