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NBCU Targets End of August to Pick Online Content Partners

NBCU has told the FCC that it got 32 applications for online news partners by the July 22 deadline, and that it expects to have chosen the winning RFP's by the end of August, so long as there are enough candidates that fit the bill.

That news was delivered in its sixth-month report to the commission on its progress on complying with the Comcast/NBCU deal condition that "at least half of the 10 NBC Owned Television Stations to enter into cooperative arrangements with locally focused non-profit news organizations [online news partners]."

NBCU added a caveat that it might have to "revisit" that timeline if those 32 do not eventually yield enough viable candidates, which would be at least one viable candidate in five markets.

The remaining candidates, after an initial review by NBCU execs to narrow that field, will be subjected to a second round of vetting including site visits, reference-checking and a background check.

The partnerships are based on one between NBC's KNSD in San Diego and nonprofit Voice of San Diego.

NBCU will report to the FCC in another six months on the project, by which time it will likely have much more to report.

In other deal condition news, Comcast, in another semi-annual progress report to the FCC, said it is on track to meet its Oct. 28 deadline for placing PEG programming on VOD platforms in five communities as part of a pilot program, Project Open Voice, to put PEG on VOD and online on-demand platforms. It has a Jan. 28, 2012 deadline for the online pilot program, which it says it should meet as well.

"[N]o issues have been identified that should hamper placement of PEG programming on VOD in the pilot communities by the October 28, 2011 deadline," it said, adding:. "Development of the PEG Online pilot is similarly ongoing and on track to meet the January 28, 2012 deadline.

The markets getting the PEG VOD in October are Fresno, Calif.; Hialeah, Fla.; Houston; Peterborough, N.H.; and Philadelphia. All those plus an additional market, Medford, Mass., are getting the online platform. Medford will act as an online test bed before rolling out the platform to the other five pilot markets. Comcast told the FCC it already has a platform developer and three Web designers at work on the project, which it outlined in a video,  and has shown a prototype portal to the pilot markets