Critics want to write off Comcast-NBCU merger

OK, now they're in trouble. The most powerful group on earth--writers--have taken exception to the Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA)-NBC Universal merger. The Writers Guild of America, pointing to the implications of more media in fewer hands, told the FCC that the merger would have a "profoundly negative development not just for writers but for consumers and all citizens in a democracy." Not to pick nits here, but aren't all citizens in a democracy generally consumers?

Anyway, the writers were not alone in their objections to the merger. Allbritton Communications, a media company itself which has been nagging at the deal got some face time with top FCC staff members and Chairman Julius Genachowski to discuss the "potentially ominous implications" of what it called "the largest merger of media power in American history."

Elsewhere, the American Cable Association (ACA), which said it doesn't object to the merger per se, outlined an extensive list of conditions it thinks the FCC should impose on the deal to "prevent the media giant from harming competitors and their subscribers through the exercise of undue market power," as ACA President-CEO Matt Polka put it.

Of course, a whole variety of other consumer organizations also weighed in about the deal, including the Consumer Federation of America, whose research director Mark Cooper said the merger "will reduce competition, raise prices and harm the public."

Comcast Vice President David Cohen, a man well versed in political warfare, again took the point for the MSO with a blog that stuck by Comcast's predictions that the deal would be approved by the end of the year and noting, "more than three-quarters of the video customers in the U.S. don't use Comcast, more than 80 percent of broadband users aren't Comcast customers and only one out of seven channels on a typical Comcast cable system will be affiliated in any way with Comcast-NBCU after the closing of the joint venture."

One out of seven channels? That's 14 percent of the channels--just in case you didn't do the math.

For more:
- see this L.A. Times story
- and this blog post
- Hollywood Reporter has this story
- see this ACA news release
- and this BusinessWeek story

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