Massive Comcast-NBC Universal Merger Approved by FCC

The FCC voted today 4-1 in favor of a merger between Comcast and NBC Universal, saying in a statement,  " ... the Commission has determined that granting the application, with certain conditions and contingent upon enforceable commitments, is in the public interest."

Needless to say the public is not usually the main beneficiary of massive media consolidation. As media reform advocates point out, the merger of giant media properties kills competition, reduces diversity on the airwaves, and limits consumer choice (to name just a few end results of selling out the public's needs to appease large conglomerate). Free Press pointed to some of the specifics of the disastrous deal (while the merger still has to be approved by the Justice Department, they are expected to follow the FCC's lead). The merger allows:

Comcast, the nation's largest cable and residential broadband provider, to take control of NBC Universal, a major content provider and the owner of national English- and Spanish-language broadcast networks, more than two dozen local TV stations, numerous cable news and entertainment channels, and movie studios. With the FCC's blessing, Comcast-NBC will now control one in every five television viewing hours.

Free Press President and CEO Josh Silver deemed the decision a massive failure by the FCC:

Today’s decision by the FCC represents a failure of the agency to live up to its own public interest mandate, as well as Barack Obama’s promise to promote media diversity and prevent excessive media concentration. This deal will give Comcast unprecedented control over both media content and the physical network that delivers it. The FCC has opened Pandora’s Box, and we can soon expect a whole new swarm of mega-mergers that will have dire consequences for media and the Internet.

“Such power concentrated in the hands of a single company is deeply troubling. Access to information from a variety of independent sources is essential to an informed citizenry and a functioning democracy. While the FCC has adopted conditions, they are insufficient short-term or voluntary fixes that will fail to prevent permanent harm to competition, consumer choice and the future of the Internet. This deal will drive up cable and Internet costs for subscribers, while further eliminating diverse, independent media content that is already woefully lacking in the commercial media.

“We applaud Commissioner Michael Copps for taking a principled stand and refusing to sign off on this disastrous deal. But the approval of this merger represents yet another failure of the Obama administration to live up to the president’s promises to protect against media consolidation and ensure access to a broad range of diverse sources of news and information. Apparently, such promises aren’t worth much in the face of Comcast’s army of lobbyists, PR shops and generous campaign contributions. Today, Comcast has won the jackpot, and once again, it is the American people who will end up paying out.”

In a statement, Copps said, "At the end of the day, the public interest requires more -- much more -- than it is receiving,"

AlterNet / By Tana Ganeva

Posted at January 18, 2011, 9:15am

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