Rockefeller: Comcast-NBCU has potential of higher rates for less programming

Taking an almost opposite stance on what Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) claims will be the benefits of an NBC Universal acquisition, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has pointedly told FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski that the deal needs careful federal scrutiny to prevent Comcast and NBC for getting too much power, closing their programming to others and raising rates.

"Fundamentally ... I worry that a media merger of this size has the potential to leave consumers with lesser programming and higher rates," Rockefeller said in the letter which was released to the media over the weekend. "I worry that when companies swell to include both content and distribution the incentives to support quality programming are diminished."

Neither Comcast nor NBC has made "any specific commitments regarding consumer rates" which, in turn, bring on more FCC scrutiny, wrote Rockefeller, who also pointed to the "potential to hamper development of the emerging online video market" because Comcast and NBC could favor their own content and degrade or block online distribution of programming by competitors.

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