FCC Asks Comcast, NBCU For More Info

In a clear sign that the FCC's decision on the
Comcast/NBCU merger still requires more input, the commission has asked both
companies for a lot more information, including on carriage deals, online distribution,
rates, and much more.

It made an initial request for a boatload of
information May 21, and made the follow-up request in letters to both Comcast
and NBCU Monday.

The FCC has given the companies only until Oct. 18
to provide written and electronic documentation for each request. NBC will have
the easier time of it, at least in terms of the number of items to produce
(10), while Comcast has 30 items on its to-do list.

The FCC wants to see the two most recent carriage
agreements with competing MSO's for nets in which Comcast has a financial
interest--Golf Channel, Versus, regional sports nets, etc.). The FCC also is
including a network neutrality question, asking for its plans to deploy
broadband to served and not served areas.

Also on the list of FCC must-haves are information
on rate changes, any changes in tier placement for networks it carries, and
what criteria it will use for search algorithms in on-screen navigation of
channels by genre.

It also wants data on the extent of
overbuilding--which means competition--in all of its markets, including from
telcos, RCN and Wow.

And to keep tabs on promises made related to the
proposed joint venture, the FCC wants Comcast to identify and describe--by
parties, addressee, date, and subject matter--all agreements, memoranda of
understanding, letters, correspondence, written testimony, e-mails and similar
documents, by which the company has made commitments with third parties in
connection with the future operation of its proposed LLC with NBCU.

For all the data the FCC is seeking from Comcast,
click here.

On the NBCU side, the FCC also wants the two
most recent carriage agreements for co-owned cable nets, as well as info
on per-sub ad revenues for its programming nets and "all e-mails and
correspondence" about online distribution via Sezmi.

The FCC also wants a list of the top 20
advertisers on air and online and their annual revenue.

The second request is not unusual says a Comcast
spokesperson, and does not stop the clock on the merger.

The FCC is currently on day 129 of its unofficial 180-day shot clock
for mergers reviews.

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.