FCC Eyes Conditions for Comcast-NBCU Merger

Some late-breaking cable news to go with your last-minute shopping. Leading today’s roundup: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) circulates an order with conditions for Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)’s merger with NBC Universal . Also making news: Cable MSOs are seeing little demand for CableCards, broadcast networks lost more viewers to cable in 2010, and Sezmi Corp. ’s spin machine generates disparate results.

  • The FCC said this morning that it will circulate an order with conditions for Comcast’s merger with NBC Universal that the commissioners will vote on. Look for the FCC and Department of Justice to sign off on the merger by the end of January, Comcast officials said Wednesday. Although the deal is nearing approval, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts had hoped to get it done by the end of 2010 . The American Cable Association (ACA) says it expects the that the FCC will mandate that Comcast settles disputes with programmers through baseball-style arbitration as a condition of the merger -- a process ACA says is too costly for its members . (See ACA: Comcast-NBCU Deal Could Cost Subs $2.4B and ACA: No Stopping Comcast-NBC Merger.)

  • Cable operators are seeing little demand for CableCards, with the 10 largest MSOs deploying only 5,000 CableCards in the last five months, the NCTA told the FCC Wednesday. (See The New CableCARD Rules and FCC Approves CableCARD Fixes .)

  • Major cable networks continued to gain viewers at the expense of the Big Four broadcast networks in 2010, with Fox’s Nielsen ratings dropping 15 percent and ABC falling 5 percent. USA Today tracks the biggest movers, including MTV, powered by “Jersey Shore,” which improved its ratings by 22 percent, and CNN, which fell 34 percent.

  • Sezmi’s spin machine remains in high gear following the demise of its “Select Plus” tier, resulting in some conflicting headlines at various publications. The Los Angeles Times was more positive in its interpretation, saying “Sezmi Charts a New Path to Competing with Cable,” while TV News Check said, “Sezmi Pulls Plug on Wireless Cable Offering.” (See Sezmi Still Seeking Telco Partners and Sezmi Stacks More Cash .)

  • Cable pioneer Thom Keith, who built the first cable system in California and created a cable program in Washington which was a forerunner to C-SPAN, died Dec. 13 at age 69.

    — Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable

  • Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:15:17 PM
    re: FCC Eyes Conditions for Comcast-NBCU Merger

    Comcast is acting pretty gleeful in this blog post after hearing that the FCC found the NBCU deal in the public interest, though any approval in early 2011 will likely come with conditions on program access, including third-party OTT firms to obtain NBCU content.  But the FCC isn't airing those conditions, or their length, as the Commissioners get a chance to pore over the proposed order. JB

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