Viacom Raises Red Flags On Comcast/NBCU

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Viacom, according to an ex parte filing, expressed concerns that the proposed merger of Comcast with NBC Universal would impact independent programming during meetings with Democratic Federal Communications Commission commissioners Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn.

Viacom representatives said they were concerned about the impact the merger would have on independent programming, saying the new company would have "increased incentive and ability to impede competition in the markets for linear and over-the-top video programming by favoring its own content to the detriment of independent programmers."

Those are the same concerns raised by some congressional Democrats in calling on the FCC to put access conditions, including online access, on the joint venture.

Viacom counsel Antoinette Cook Bush and other execs asked the FCC to "consider taking steps to safeguard competition and protect unaffiliated providers of video programming from anticompetitive practices."

Comcast has struck an agreement with the Independent Film & Television Alliance on access to independent programming. IFTA members also met with FCC staffers last week to outline the benefits of that agreement and suggest the FCC should look at the wider issue of access to independent programming in a general proceeding.

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