Waters Uses Fox/Cablevision Hook To Talk Comcast/NBCU

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Rep. Maxin Waters used the Fox/Cablevision retransmission-consent fight to renew her calls for conditions on the Comcast/NBCU deal.
In a letter to Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski, she said that if Comcast were to use its ownership of NBCU TV stations, or online content, as leverage to negotiate higher rates from cable competitors, it could potentially harm consumers.
"Therefore, the FCC and DOJ should strongly consider the impact the merger could have in areas where Comcast will own both a cable system and an NBC owned-and-operated broadcast station," she wrote.
Comcast has already agreed to a number of voluntary retrans/progarm carriage conditions as part of its agreement with non-NBC affiliates.
While she was at it, Waters encouraged the commission and Justice, which is also vetting the deal, to "closely examine" Comcast's diversity commitments. In particulary she seemed unwerwhelmed by Comcast's pledge of a $20 million capital fund for minority entrepreneurs, calling it "a marginal amount considering the scale of modern media ownership and associated operational costs."
And while she noted Comcast has pledged to launch 10 independent channels in the next eight years--if the deal goes through--she pointed out that it had not specificed how the channels would be carried or how many subs they will have at launch.
She suggested that beyond those, the FCC and Justice should take a cue from the FCC's Diversity Committee and suggestions like having broadcasters sublease their channels to diverse entities for a fee.

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