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Comcast Pledges To Keep Stations, Online Competition In NBCU Deal

"Comcast does not and will not foreclose consumer access to any online Internet content for anticompetitive purposes." That pledge and others come from Comcast in a document the company is using in meetings with legislators and the FCC about the deal to acquire a controlling stake in NBC Universal.

It also says the deal "will have no impact" on cable prices and that there is "nothing to [the] rumor" that the deal presages a spin-off of the NBC network or local stations.

According to a copy of the confidential presentation acquired by B&C, Comcast argues that the deal will not reduce competition or result in a "meaningful" increase in market competition.

The promise, labeled as a "Reality," came in a sheet titled "The Myths--and Realities--About the Comcast/Universal Transactions,." The Myth it was responding to? "Comcast could discriminate against unaffiliated online Internet content."

In response to the "myth" that the deal could lead to the elimination of free video sites like Hulu, Comcast's "reality" was that it has had a partnership with Hulu for several years to share content between the site and Comcast's own Fancast site, and that "we expect the good relationship to continue." Comcast also points out that it is only one of the partners and says it "will not be in control of the venture."

The document also says that Comcast and NBC parent GE will be making "some upfront commitments" that "will confirm our recognition of the need for the FCC to assure and ongoing competitive marketplace," and says it is willing to engage in "appropriate discussions at the appropriate time" with the FCC.

It has already outlined some of those commitments, including on access to content, localism, diversity and public affairs, when the deal was announced, and signaled there could be more.

The company also gave a shout out to NBC News, calling it a myth that the deal would hurt an already hurting news industry. "NBC News is a national treasure whose independence we all value and will always respect."

Comcast is planning to seek FCC approval of the deal by the end of this month. That will include a request for the transfer of FCC licenses and a public interest filing outlining those commitments. It is expected to file for antitrust review with the Justice Department next week.

John Eggerton
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.