According to Fortune, Comcast cable TV will officially take control of NBC on January 28, 2011. That’s just 3 days from now. While speculation and accusation have accompanied the planned merger since its inception, a new article at Fortune points out the government’s role in the Comcast NBC merger.
Fortune’s Dan Mitchell claims the Comcast NBC merger opens the door to governmental micromanagement of future media deals. The end result in the Comcast NBC deal is a laundry list of restrictions put in place by the FCC to “protect” consumers and other companies. Equal pricing for online distributors and the more traditional cable TV outlets, standalone Internet service for non Comcast cable customers, and budget prices for low income consumers are just a few of the government mandates Mitchell points out.
The article goes on to say, “If Justice and the FCC had simply said ‘no’ to the merger, nascent online video outfits wouldn’t need to be ‘protected’ from the monster that has been created. There would be no monster. Or at least, it wouldn’t be so monstrous.
And it’s far from clear that the Netflixes of the world, or consumers, are protected at all. The conditions set by the FCC are riddled with ambiguity. For instance, Comcast may not ‘unreasonably’ restrict the availability of online video, the FCC says. What does ‘unreasonably’ mean?”
Should the FCC have simply vetoed the deal? Maybe not. Regardless, it’s been approved and the government is now in the business of calling the shots in cable TV.