DOJ Will Look at Comcast Move on Hulu Directors

Department of Justice antitrust chief Makan Delrahim says Justice's antitrust division will look carefully at Comcast's appointment of three directors to Hulu.

That came in a Senate Antitrust Committee hearing Wednesday (Oct. 3).

Delrahim said that while Justice could not extend the conditions in the Comcast/NBCU consent decree, which recently sunsetted, DOJ will take action if it sees any anticompetitive conduct from the company.

Report: DOJ Cautions Comcast As NBCU Programming Conditions Sunset

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) pointed out that Comcast was now appointing the three directors and asked if Delrahim was concerned that consumers were at risk now that the conditions had expired. Blumenthal also said he had issues with how effective those conditions had been.

Delrahim agreed with the skepticism about behavioral remedies for anticompetitive conduct. He said he was not privy to the investigation that produced those remedies on Comcast/NBCU, and he was in no position to judge.

But he did point out that the same judge who allowed the AT&T-TW merger was the one who oversaw the Comcast/NBCU consent decree and sought even more conditions on that.

As to the Hulu directors, Delrahim said he wasn't sure how appointing new directors to Hulu dovetailed with the prohibitions on Comcast taking any management role in Hulu. "Certainly Hulu could be a competitor to the cable business and it's one that we will examine carefully to see if they might take conduct that would harm its ability to compete within their market, and also look to see if there's a Sec. 8 Clayton Act on interlocking directorates. 

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.