Comcast's past as a tough programming negotiator is proving to be something of a problem as it tries to acquire a primary programming source, NBC Universal.
Small operators, led by the American Cable Association (ACA) have made it clear that they consider the merger a threat to their livelihoods because Comcast would not only have the power to negotiate better programming deals for itself, but it would, in fact, own some of the content it was negotiating with smaller players.
The ACA today is filing comments with the FCC claiming, among other things in documents obtained by FierceCable, that a combined Comcast-NBCU "could double its retransmission consent take in the six TV markets that both contain an NBC O&O (owned and operated station) and where Comcast has significant pressure as the incumbent cable provider."
Bloomberg has expressed its concerns that Comcast's control of NBC networks like CNBC will adversely affect its Bloomberg TV service and, of course, competitors like DirecTV have said they're really worried about the deal.
One group that should be vocal has been quiet, according to a New York Times story. Local station owners "have been largely quiet" because "they have been locked in negotiations with Comcast for months trying to reach agreement on protections for competitors that both sides can live with," the story said.
Comcast, which is expected to eventually win the right to spend $31 billion on the network giant, has been making concessions of its own with regard to programming--especially highly valued sports programming.
The MSO reached agreement with NBC TV stations to keep the Kentucky Derby, Sunday Night Football, the Stanley Cup Finals and other top sporting events on "free" over-the-air TV. That follows a pattern the MSO has followed in markets like Philadelphia where it essentially controls sports programming for three major league teams--the Flyers, 76ers and Phillies--but makes certain that at least a few of the games appear on broadcast stations.
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