Advanced Television

Public Knowledge files video competition complaint

March 3, 2016

By Colin Mann

US public interest advocacy group Public Knowledge has filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission against Comcast for excluding its Stream TV service from its own data cap. The complaint alleges that Comcast violated its NBC-Universal merger commitments and notes that the company’s behaviour is inconsistent with the FCC’s Open Internet rules.

John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge, said that when Comcast bought NBC-Universal, both the FCC and Department of Justice recognised that Comcast could take steps to unfairly disadvantage online video. “Among other things, both agencies prohibited Comcast from excluding its own services from data caps or metering, and required it to count traffic from competing online video services the same as its own. Comcast’s behaviour violates the plain terms of its merger commitments and the consent decree.”

“Comcast’s behaviour is also inconsistent with the FCC’s Open Internet rules. The FCC adopted an ‘Internet Conduct’ rule that prevents anticompetitive behaviour on a case-by-case basis by analysing the harms it could cause.

“Comcast’s actions could result in fewer online video choices for viewers nationwide, while increasing its dominance as a video gatekeeper. If its behaviour persists, prices will go up, the number of choices will go down, creators will have a harder time reaching an audience, and viewers will have a harder time accessing diverse and independent programming.

“Because Comcast’s illegal behaviour would harm the video marketplace and viewers, we’ve asked the FCC to stop it. For example, Comcast could eliminate its broadband cap and return to unlimited plans, or Comcast’s customers–and not Comcast–could select which services to exempt from metering. We urge the FCC to take quick action to protect consumers and competition in the emerging online video marketplace.”

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