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Policy Watch: Eyes on NBCU & Title II

Jeff Baumgartner
5/27/2010

The proposed Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) takeover of NBC Universal looms large in this edition of Policy Watch. But don't worry, there's some Federal Communications Commission (FCC) excitement too.

  • Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) told the Department of Justice and the FCC on Wednesday that he wants relatively strict conditions imposed on the proposed Comcast-NBCU union. Chief among them: that Comcast shed NBC's interest in Hulu LLC over concerns that the MSO might try to restrict Internet access to network shows. (Comcast has already said it won't.) (See Comcast: NBCU Deal Won't Kill Web TV Players .)

  • Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis told folks at the Barclays Conference on Wednesday that he believes the deal's on track to close before the end of 2010. That's assuming Comcast gets the deal done at all, of course.

  • On the regulatory side, Comcast has the backing of three governors whose states have relatively heavy concentrations of Comcast and NBC employees: David Paterson of New York, Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, and Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania.

    The Associated Press points out that Comcast executive VP David Cohen served as chief of staff to Rendell from 1992 to 1997, when Rendell was mayor of Philly.

  • Mark your calendars, 'cause here's a biggie: The FCC's tentative agenda for its June 17 open meeting includes a formal Notice of Inquiry related to the Commission's authority of broadband services.

    The agency is pursuing a reclassification of its authority over broadband, a "third way" other than defining a service as an information service (Title I) or a telecom service (Title II). This is all coming down as the FCC looks to push through its far-reaching National Broadband Plan. (See FCC Declares War on Broadband and Net Neutrality Ruling: FCC Loses, Comcast Wins.)

    Among the NOI's questions: whether the current Title I (information service) classification is sufficient, what the legal and practical consequences might be if the FCC's broadband authority went full Title II, and the potential ramifications for the FCC's proposed third way, which would resemble Title II but would not enforce all of the components found under a Title II regime.

    Comcast is already upset about any Title II talk, with its CFO telling the Barclay's crowd that heavy regulatory restrictions could curb the MSO's infrastructure investments.

    Here's a bit more to chew on from the regulatory world:



    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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