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Stop Comcast!

When NBCChicago.com removed a post of mine about Tribune Company CEO Randy Michaels at the request of "someone" at Tribune, one of the explanations bandied about by my local handlers was that the upper management types in New York were worried about the company's proposed merger with Comcast.

I never quite understood what that meant, exactly, except that maybe no one there wanted another major media company pulling strings behind the scenes to dash the deal as well as nerves about folks keeping jobs - let's not do anything powerful people may not like and risk our new overlords tossing us out on the streets.

So, at least in one small way, you can see that the proposed deal has already been bad for journalism. Can a completed deal be any better?

To be sure, NBC is clearly evil regardless of whether Comcast - one of the worst companies in world history - enters the fold.

But these deals have historically been disastrous for everyone except those who make them. That's why they do them. Your interest - the public interest - is the last thing on their minds.

On Tuesday, the FCC will hold a public forum on the proposed merger at Northwestern. Here are some of the details, followed by some other resources and viewpoints.

1. From the FCC:

The Media Bureau today announced the agenda for its July 13, 2010, public forum being held from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Northwestern University Law School, Thorne Auditorium, 375 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611. The two-panel forum will discuss the Comcast/NBCU/GE joint venture proposal, followed by a public comment period on the proposed transaction.

The event is open to the public. The audience will be given an opportunity to participate via "open microphone" during a special segment from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. Individuals wishing to comment must sign up at the registration desk beginning at 5 p.m. Slots for this two-hour segment will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. The forum also will be carried live over the Internet on the FCC Live web page at http://reboot.fcc.gov/live.

Questions from the Internet audience can be submitted throughout the event via e-mail to livequestions@fcc.gov and via Twitter using the hash tag, #fccNBC.

Agenda and Panelists
1:00 p.m. Introduction and Opening Remarks

Commissioner Michael Copps, Federal Communications Commission

1:15 p.m. Panel 1: Online Video Distribution Considerations

John Flynn, Senior Counsel to the Chairman for Transactions, FCC (Moderator)

Jeffrey Blum, Deputy General Counsel, DISH Network

Susan Crawford, Professor, Cardozo Law School, and Visiting Research Collaborator,
Princeton University

Markham C. Erickson, Partner, Holch & Erickson LLP, and Executive Director, NetCoalition

Travis Parsons, Senior Director, Business Development, Sezmi

Josh Silver, President and CEO, Free Press

Scott Wallsten, Vice President for Research and Senior Fellow, Technology Policy Institute

Susan Whiting, Vice Chair, The Nielsen Company

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3:00 p.m. Break

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3:15 p.m. Panel 2: Multichannel Video Programming Distributor Considerations

William Lake, Chief, Media Bureau, FCC (Moderator)

Colleen Abdoulah, President and CEO, WOW! Internet, Cable and Phone

Tyrone Brown, President, Media Access Project

Brian Lawlor, President-Chairman, NBC Television Affiliates and Senior Vice President of Television, The E.W. Scripps Company

William Rogerson, Professor of Economics, Northwestern University

Ken Solomon, Chairman & CEO, The Tennis Channel

James Speta, Professor, Northwestern University School of Law

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5:00 p.m. Break

-

6:00 p.m. Public Comments

-

8:00 p.m. Adjournment

-

Open captioning will be provided. Other reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request. Include a description of the accommodation you will need.

Also include a way we can contact you if we need more information. Last-minute requests will be accepted, but may not be possible to fill. Send an e-mail to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (tty).

2. NBC-Comcast Marriage Gets Daley's Blessing, But Many Object

3. The curious case of Bobby Rush's curiously timed hearing of his own.

"Rush has been leading the charge against net neutrality since 2006, when he cosponsored a telecommunications bill with Texas Republican Joe Barton (lately noted for his defense of BP)," Curtis Black writes. "As Newstips noted at the time, that bill was introduced just before the Sun Times revealed a $1 million donation from SBC and AT&T to a charity founded by Rush."

4. Hispanic Journalists Oppose Comcast/NBC Universal Merger.

"We remember the promises made by NBC in 2001 to invest in local Telemundo stations when it bought the network. But following the merger, NBC gutted the local news operations of Telemundo stations in major cities throughout the country. We urge our fellow journalism organizations and Latino leaders to join us in opposing this merger."

5. Communications Workers of America: Comcast-NBCU Merger Will Harm Workers, Consumers.

"A Comcast-NBCU combination will result in the loss of good jobs and depress labor standards for those who still have jobs after a merger. The merged company would add an additional $8 billion to the current debt load, giving the new company the choice of cutting jobs and/or raising cable prices."

6. From the Coalition for Competition in Media:

"Comcast's proposed acquisition of NBCU will mean higher prices, fewer jobs, less choice."

7. Impact on Chicago according to Free Press:

"Comcast's takeover of NBC could be particularly harmful to Chicago, where Comcast is already the dominant cable and Internet service provider.

"If the merger is approved, Comcast would acquire NBC 5 Chicago and Telemundo Chicago, as well as Versus, the cable channel that carries Chicago Blackhawks games.

"Comcast would also own the NBC broadcast network, dozens of cable channels, 24 other local broadcast stations, TV and movie studios and major websites.

"The merger is particularly bad for Americans in cities like Chicago, where Comcast is the main cable provider and NBC owns local TV stations. If the merger is approved, Comcast will own one in five TV viewing hours; cable bills will rise; and consumers will have fewer choices in programming. The deal would threaten local competition, newsgathering and advertising."

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Comments welcome.



Permalink

Posted on July 12, 2010


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