Comcast: Existing law would protect rival TV services

Existing law would prevent Comcast from denying satellite TV providers and other rivals access to NBC Universal programming on reasonable terms once the cable TV operator takes control of the media company, Comcast’s chief executive Brian Roberts has said.

Satellite companies such as DirecTV and smaller cable companies fear that if regulators approve Comcast’s plan to acquire a majority stake in NBC Universal, Comcast would be able to drive up prices for — or even withhold — popular national and local programming, including NBC television broadcasts.

Roberts said programme access rules established by a 1992 cable law would prohibit the company from abusing its control over NBC Universal to discriminate against competing subscription TV services.

Roberts also said the combination does not raise traditional media consolidation fears, because NBC Universal is a media company while Comcast is primarily a content distributor.

Comcast is currently seeking regulatory approval to acquire a 51 per cent interest in NBC Universal from General Electric Co. The deal must be approved by the Justice Department and the FCC.

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