FCC Kicks Off Comcast-NBC-U Comment Rounds

The FCC is giving the public until May 3 to comment on the pending takeover of NBC Universal (NBC-U) by Comcast Corp. (CMCSA).

Responses to that set of data will come due June 2, and the third round of replies has a June 17 deadline.

The FCC is one of the federal agencies that must decide whether to allow Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator, to buy media and entertainment giant NBC-U. A number of public interest groups oppose the deal; they fear Comcast will gain too much control of Web and television content. They’re concerned the company could make consumers pay for online content for example.

Indeed, the deal is huge for Comcast. In addition to overseeing one of the world’s largest media and entertainment libraries, buying the majority stake in NBC-U also gives Comcast entrée into online video-on-demand, an advantage the company wants and needs. NBC runs Hulu, the go-to site for programming from popular first-run shows such as “The Office” to feature-length films. Such a move would put Comcast in front of its rivals in the race to monetize online video – even the gurus at Google Inc. have yet to make YouTube profitable. And while Comcast well could charge for at least some online VoD access, there’s no guarantee consumers will be willing to pay for TV content online they can get for free through their TVs.

Comcast has vowed not to charge for programs Hulu already provides.


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