Comcast's NBC Deal Said to Face Possible U.S. Arbitration Demand [telecom]

By Todd Shields - Bloomberg - Oct 8, 2010

| Comcast Corp. may be required to accept arbitrati > Now that Comcast owns NBC (or will, if the government > doesn't block it), > Why would they do that? The higher the consent fees, the > more money all the other cable systems will have to pay > Comcast.

I responded:

As I said, "one can hope..." But maybe that's too much > to hope.

I then cited four possible reasons:

- It's just possible that some other MSO (e.g. Time Warner) might try to buy another broadcast network (e.g. CBS) one of these days. If Brian Roberts is thinking ahead (which he surely must be), he doesn't want to screw Time Warner.

- As the largest cable company in the country, Comcast dominates the industry. But it also supports the industry by taking a leading role in negotiations with broadcasters, government agencies, and other organizations. It has enough problems dealing with all of these outside parties without alienating the rest of the cable industry.

- For years, the cable industry (including Comcast) has been blaming rising cable rates on programmers and broadcasters. Certain members of Congress (notably Senator Markey of Massachusetts) have noted that some cable TV companies (including Comcast) also own non- broadcast programming. The question arises: "why are you complaining about rates if you own the programming." Comcast has enough problems with Congress without giving Senator Markey even more ammunition.

- Comcast itself will have to pay retransmission consent fees to NBCU. Under the terms of its deal with GE, Comcast will own 51% and GE will own 49%. But Comcast and NBCU are still separate legal entities.

Apparently, the FCC doesn't think those reasons will be sufficient to restrain retransmission consent fees or non-broadcast license fees.

Neal McLain

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Neal McLain
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