Sara Lee commercials claim that "everybody doesn't like something." With final comments about the Comcast-NBC Universal merger now in the FCC's hands, it appears that something is the idea of Comcast taking over a broadcast network.
EarthLink, for instance, suggested that the $30 billion transaction "would result in Comcast engaging in a range of anti-competitive actions." Dish Network said the deal "poses a direct threat" to the satellite industry. And Bloomberg, which first tried to get an extension to find even more things to complain about, said that the merged company would "exert a degree of market power unrivaled in our nation's media history" that leads to higher cable and Internet prices.
Comcast itself, having quietly suffered the slings and arrows of its opponents charges during the process, responded to critics by saying they're all off base; the merged company will be a benign entity that serves mankind and anyway, it's not that big of a deal.
"This deal is not even among the top five telecom and media transactions the government has reviewed," said Comcast EVP David Cohen in a blog post. Bigger deals, he said, included the AOL-Time Warner transaction ($165 billion, and we all know how well that worked out); AT&T-Bell South ($67 billion); SBC Ameritech ($62 billion); AT&T/MediaOne ($56 billion) and Bell Atlantic/GTE ($53 billion).
For what it's worth, somebody apparently does like the deal. Two hundred local NBC stations that had been concerned that Comcast would take away their free programming and put it on cable reversed course when Comcast said it would keep the Olympics and Sunday Night Football on over-the-air channels.
Finally, in a related-but-unrelated item, the House Communications Subcommittee plans a field hearing on the deal July 8 in Chicago.
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