Bloomberg, Others Oppose Comcast/NBCU Union As Constituted


Bloomberg, Media Access Project, Free Press, WealthTV and others say they oppose the Comcast/NBCU joint venture as currently constituted, which means the voluntary conditions offered up by the companies are not sufficient, in their view, and more needs to be required by the government.
That is according to a copy of a letter (supplied by Bloomberg) to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski and Christine Varney, who is overseeing the Justice Department's review of the deal.
The groups said that they opposed the merger as filed, which is short of officially asking the FCC to deny the deal. Instead, they asked Genachowski and Varney to "exercise their authority to protect the public using whatever means deemed appropriate."
Theoretically that could include denying the deal outright, but it could also mean putting conditions on the deal that address the groups' concerns.
Those include that it could undermine independent programmers, "drive up" costs of cable and satellite programming, reduce online access to "must-have" programming, and a number of general perceived harms about the combination of NBCU and its programming and distribution assets with the largest cable distributor, including exerting editorial control over news, increased power in labor negotiations, control of ad messages, and even "determining how the Interent evovles."
"[W]hat is completely predictable is that a company of this size will be able to exert an unhealthy degree of influence over the media landscape absent strong efforts to limit that control," they wrote.
That came as the FCC's midnight June 21 deadline for initial comments on the deal approaches.
Otheres signing on to the letter include: Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, Public Knowledge and the Writers Guild, West.
Separately, Media Access Project, Free Press, the Consumer Federation of America and likely others, will ask the FCC to deny the deal in a petition being filed later today.. "We are going to say that the [deal] needs to be dismissed," says MAP's Andrew Schwartzman. He says the number of signatories to the petition could grow by day's end: "There are still some people who are looking at it."