After over a year of deliberations the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and Department of Justice have decided to allow America’s leading cable operator, Comcast, to merge with NBC Universal.
“This is a proud and exciting day for Comcast,” Brian L. Roberts, Comcast chief executive officer, said in a statement released by Comcast.
Comcast announced its plans to purchase 51 percent of NBC Universal’s stock for over $13 billion back in late 2009, allowing it to take control from former majority owner General Electric. With this purchase, Comcast now has control over USA, Bravo, SyFy, CNBC and MSNBC cable channels. In addition Comcast will also own Universal Studios, giving the company control over programming and distribution. Chief executive of NBC Universal Jeff Zucker assures the public that no big changes will be occurring.
To keep Comcast from monopolizing its competitors, the FCC has attached more than a few restrictions in the form of a 279-page document. Some of these restrictions include Comcast giving up manager rights to the online video site ‘Hulu’, allowing other online-video providers access to their NBC Universal shows at the same price, and committing to an open-internet service with reasonable prices and sufficient bandwidth.
“We have adopted strong and fair merger conditions to ensure this transaction serves the public interest,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said.
However, FCC Commissioner Michael Chopps in an interview with CNN said he believes that this merger is a bad idea. Chopps has opposed the merger from the beginning and was the one dissenting vote in the FCC’s 4-1 ruling. He said Comcast now has too much influence on the public offline and online.
“It is new media as well as old; it is news and information as well as sports and entertainment; it is distribution as well as content; and it confers too much power in one company’s hands,” Chopps said in an interview with Yahoo News.
The merger appears to have plenty of support from politicians such as John Kerry and Greg Walden and watchdog groups such as the NAACP and the Independent Film& Television Alliance, all of whom say this is a positive move for the public and will lead to more varied and positive programming. “These expressions of support reflect a broad-based expectation that this transaction will benefit the public interest,” Vice President of Comcast David Cohen wrote on the Comcast blog post Thursday. “We look forward to delivering on this terrific promise.”