Democrats Tee Up Comcast/NBCU Concerns


In Thursday’s (Feb. 4) hearing, the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Communications & Internet Subcommittee will be looking at a merged Comcast/NBCU’s “unique and commanding” position in the media marketplace, including what could be its power to “fundamentally shape the way Web video evolves,” according to language in the memo. Look for access to online video and an “open Internet” to get some vetting during the proceedings eyeing the proposed $30 billion merger.

While Comcast/NBCU have argued that the Web space is extremely competitive, with their combined company still having only a small fraction of online video viewing, a briefing memo from Democratic staffers to members about the upcoming hearing cites a Bernstein Research Web video study that suggested the new company would control one of every five viewing hours in the country and that it “could – and presumably would – make decisions that would fundamentally shape the way Web video evolves.”

Under the “Open Internet” section, the memo cites the FCC’s 2008 BitTorrent decision against Comcast–though not by name–and says “Some are concerned that the addition of NBC’s content to the Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) portfolio may provide additional incentive for Comcast to take steps to unfairly favor its own Internet traffic at the expense of unaffiliated content.”

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