Comcast Has Answers for FCC

Comcast has met the FCC's Oct. 18
deadline for additional information on the company in response to an
Oct. 4 request, part of its ongoing vetting of the proposed Comcast/NBCU joint

Most of the answers were concerned with data that was
not made public, including distribution agreements, rates and other proprietary

Among the public answers, however, included its
plans for deploying broadband Comcast said it deployed in response
to population growth and new demand, for example, and that included
deploying Wi-Fi and its HighSpeed2Go mobile broadband service
(Comcast said the latter would be deployed in 21 markets by year-end, for
example). The FCC wanted to know how Comcast decides what networks to

The answer seemed fairly self-evident. The company
said it looks at how the network would fit in the overall channel lineup,
how it can help Comcast draw and retain subs, the price and terms, the
network's management track record, and, finally, "bandwidth
constraints." Plus, it said, a net is sometimes part of a larger deal for
co-owned nets, so the overall value of the deal comes into play in those cases.

And perhaps the height of self-evident: "As a
general rule, when negotiating with programmers, Comcast Cable seeks
to obtain the lowest possible wholesale cost that it must eventually
pass on to its customers."

The company pointed out that, when deciding
whether to add a channel, a relevant factor would be whether it was in
a genre already well represented. But that by the same token, a network in a
genre not already well represented, like say a board game network, might not
have a sufficient potential fan base, while a network in a genre
with several nets already in the lineup might be attractive because it had
the value-added of compelling programming.

Comcast used the example of the Big Ten Network,
which is carried on a highly penetrated tier in Big Ten markets,
and a sports tier (that costs extra) outside of them.

Comcast also outlined the operations of
its managed services including video delivery. How the FCC will treat managed
services in its network neutrality rulemaking is now one of the issues in that

The company said that programmers who purchase the
service have "contractual access to their programming" and how the
channels will be arranged in their channel lineups.

Comcast also points out that it does not demand
exclusivity and programmers are free to contract with other transport

NBCU's answers were also due by the end of the day Monday. Both
were second requests for info from the FCC.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.