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Disney, Viacom Seek Comcast-NBCU Conditions

Light Reading
LR Cable News Analysis
Light Reading
1/14/2011

Lobbying for and against Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s merger with NBC Universal heads up today's cable news headlines.

  • While Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) and Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA) aren't strangers to mega-mergers, lobbyists at the media giants are telling the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that a combined Comcast-NBCU may be too big unless approval comes with conditions involving online video. (See FCC May Force Comcast to Unbundle Modems .)

  • NBC is citing the pending Comcast merger as the reason it chose not to make its executives available for a grilling at the Television Critics Association tour.

  • With fewer pay-TV companies left to sue for patent infringement, attorneys at Rovi Corp. are now going after Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) and its IMDb.com unit for allegedly violating Rovi's intellectual property. Any time Rovi litigates with the patents it acquired from Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc., we think about the whereabouts of Henry Yuen. (See Rovi Flips Switch on TV Widgets.)

  • Dampening some of the "smart TV" hype from last week's International CES , The Diffusion Group (TDG) Senior Partner Colin Dixon allows that all these new, fancy Internet-connected sets are beautiful and all, but they're still "dumb" just the same. Oh, and he'd rather just hang on to his much less expensive Roku Inc. box instead. (See Cable Resparks Retail Play, But Cedes Control .)

  • YouTube Inc. has generated a "pathetic" 549 views from users who are paying $2.99 to rent Scary Movie 4 and other Weinstein Co. titles, prompting PaidContent to question the future of Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s video rental business. (See YouTube Opens Movie Rental Store.)

  • Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) says it may use the FCC's new net neutrality rules to fight the fees Comcast wants it to pay for delivering traffic from Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and other providers. (See Level 3: This Is Not a Peering Dispute.)

  • Research shows that only about 17 percent of the 42 million US homes with DVRs don't use the devices at all for TV viewing.

    — Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable

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