Another day, another holler: Comcast foes line up for next Chicago hearing

Free Press wants to know why FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who did make a trip to Hawaii to discuss the national broadband plan, won't be in Chicago tomorrow for the latest field hearing on the Comcast-NBC Universal merger.

The activist organization placed a full-page ad in a local alternative newspaper resembling a "wanted poster" for the FCC chair. The 21-member Competition in Media took another route--although the end game is similar--and developed a website to emphasize its opposition to the merger that it says will "exert a degree of power unknown in our nation's media history."

While Genachowski won't venture to the Windy City, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps will lead the hearing that can be seen live over the Internet at starting about 1:00 Chicago time tomorrow. Among those expected to get some face time on the webcast are representatives from Dish Network, Wide Open West, the NBC independent affiliates group, the Tennis Channel (expected to make a racquet?), Nielsen Co. and the Technology Policy Institute.

WealthTV President Charles Herring thinks there would be even more opposition if programmers weren't afraid of after-the-merger repercussions.

"It's really challenging for an independent programmer to speak up about this issue because there is grave concern about retaliation by Comcast and companies that Comcast can influence," Herring said. His opposition, he added, has nothing to do with the fact that WealthTV can't seem to get on Comcast's systems because it doesn't have much of a "value proposition," according to a Comcast representative.

It wouldn't matter even if, all of a sudden, that attitude changed because "we're not going to change our position based on something thrown our way," Herring added.

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