As CT Reports reported yesterday, the proposed Comcast/NBC Universal deal will not be done by year’s end as planned, and here is more information on why.
As we mentioned, the conditions that could be levied on Comcast by the FCC and the Justice Department are at the heart of the matter. Comcast reportedly met with FCC staffers twice this week to discuss these potential conditions, including one having to do with the distribution of online video. If the commission is trying to craft a condition under which NBCU must act in the online video marketplace as it has pre-deal, Comcast noted, “any benchmarks should focus on the behavior of similarly situated, non-vertically integrated peers.”
NBCU’s current practice, continued Comcast, “is to ensure that, when its content appears on an aggregator’s Website, other comparable, high-value content is also on that Website, and that non-NBCU programming makes up a majority of the aggregator’s programming.”
Wells Fargo Securities’ Marci Ryvicker believes some online video distribution restrictions will be imposed, “but given the FCC’s desire to promote ‘innovation’ as described in accordance with the net neutrality proposal passed…we do not believe that Comcast will be ‘handcuffed’ by rules that will dis-incentivize the company from exploring different online distribution methods.”
The FCC held a short background briefing for reporters this morning regarding the order on the proposed Comcast-NBCU transaction circulated today to other commissioners by Chairman Julius Genachowski; a vote could be tallied as early as next month. Agency staff were extremely tight-lipped regarding specific details of the order, but they did say the order says the deal “is in the public interest with conditions,” adding “there was a great deal of collaboration with the Justice Department, and they are comfortable with our approach.”
FCC spokesmen did confirm that some of the Comcast conditions address issues surrounding the future of over-the-top transmissions and traditional cable, program access, program carriage and such online concerns as IPTV. They would not comment as to the number of conditions or the length (time period) of each one.
And the page count? “Quite substantial” was all the FCC would say.