The FCC, still stinging from its net neutrality defeat at the hands of Comcast, could use the MSO's planned merger with NBC Universal as leverage to boost Web start-ups and force Comcast to do something it would like to avoid.
According to a Bloomberg/BusinessWeek story, the FCC could use its power to compel Comcast to adopt a hands-off policy for Web video startups like Roku and Boxee, including any efforts to deny NBC programming. Comcast has maintained in government hearings that it has no obligation to sell its programming to Web companies, despite rules that require it to offer programming to Dish, DirecTV and other cable and telco operators.
Meanwhile, the Comcast-NBCU deal is creating some strange new alliances. Kevin Martin, who as head of the FCC would probably have supported the deal, is now in the forefront of efforts to stop or alter it as a private consultant for clients who would like to see the deal go away.
"For a former FCC chairman to get involved in such a high profile issue like this is fairly unusual," Art Brodsky, director of Public Knowledge, told the Los Angeles Times.
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