House Democrats challenge Comcast, NBC on deal

Send a link to a friend

[February 05, 2010]  WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Democrats challenged executives from Comcast Corp. and NBC Universal on Thursday to show that the cable TV operator's plan to take control of the NBC media empire won't hurt consumers and rivals.

Members of a House subcommittee on communications and technology worried that the transaction could lead to a range of competitive harms. Those include higher cable TV rates, fewer video programming choices and possibly even an end to over-the-air broadcasts of NBC's flagship television network.

"The issue before us really boils down to the seven 'C's,'" said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., a senior member of the subcommittee. "Will this combination of communications colossi curtail competition and cost consumers? That is the question that must be answered as this process moves forward."

Markey and other House Democrats raised their concerns at the first of two back-to-back congressional hearings Thursday.

Comcast, based in Philadelphia, is seeking government approval to acquire a 51 percent stake in NBC Universal from General Electric Co. Approval is expected, but the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission are likely to attach conditions. Input from Congress could sway the outcome of those regulatory reviews.

[to top of second column]

Comcast has said that the deal is the public interest and doesn't raise significant antitrust concerns because the companies operate in separate and highly competitive markets.

Following the morning hearing before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust and competition policy was to take up the issue in the afternoon.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker were testifying at both panels. Other scheduled witnesses include representatives from consumer watchdog groups, a competing cable TV company and a group representing NBC affiliates -- the stations not owned by NBC Universal.

[Associated Press; By JOELLE TESSLER]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

< Top Stories index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor