Comcast-NBCU in middle of FCC's new net neutrality push

Here's one more reason for the telecommunications space to wince at the Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA)-NBC Universal merger. When Congressman Henry Waxman tossed up his hands and threw the issue of net neutrality back to the FCC, he apparently opened a door for that Commission to strong arm Comcast (and by association the rest of telecommunications) on net neutrality and some form of Internet regulation.

The FCC, of course, is in what Comcast hopes is the final throes of determining the justification for letting the nation's biggest cable operator acquire one of the so-called Big Four broadcast networks (among many other things). It's also in the process of wrangling concessions from Comcast to make the deal happen and placate, or at least quiet, the legions of those who've voiced their opposition. Net neutrality, a favorite of FCC boss Julian Genachowski who has suggested some form of "light" regulation, could be one of those conditions.

The problem, of course, is that Comcast would scream like a running back with a pretzled knee if it were to be singled out. "You can't protect the Internet with conditions on a company with 20 percent of the market and leave the 80 percent of the rest of the market alone," a Comcast executive, cloaked in anonymity told the Washington Post.

That, of course, leaves it up to the FCC to figure some way to make the two pieces come together: Comcast approval with net neutrality conditions that run across the whole telecommunications space. Waxman, meanwhile, is off seeking reelection, having failed to find a bipartisan consensus to keep the matter in Congress' hands.

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