SEATTLE – The Washington Attorney General’s Office joined the U.S. Department of Justice and other attorneys general in a settlement that permits the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal, while requiring Comcast to make its programming available to competitors.
“The conditions of this settlement are ones which can enhance competition and ensure continued consumer access to a wide array of online video options,” Attorney General Rob McKenna said. “Comcast and NBC Universal have expressed a commitment to providing consumer benefits with this proposed merger, and this agreement should help us realize those benefits.”
Since Comcast announced the deal in late 2009, the Washington Attorney General’s Antitrust Division had been monitoring the DOJ investigation while also conducting its own, parallel investigation concerning how the deal could impact consumers and competition.
Today’s consent decree requires a merged Comcast/NBC to make content available to competing online providers and requires arbitration to resolve any pricing disputes that may arise.
NBC will be required to relinquish all of its management rights in connection with Hulu.com, but will maintain its equity in the popular video Web site. This arrangement means that consumers will be able to continue to view NBC content at Hulu.com, along with programming from other participating networks and providers.
Additionally, the agreement prohibits Comcast from retaliating against content providers who sell to other traditional or online distributors, from entering into exclusive agreements that would allow only certain companies to have access to programming on specific terms, and from slowing broadband signals when customers view non-Comcast content.
The provisions required under the consent decree are effective for seven years.
The Federal Communications Commission, also charged with reviewing the merger, voted 4-to-1 Tuesday to approve the deal. The commission's decision imposes conditions.
DOCUMENTS and LINKS:
Comcast-NBCU Competitive Impact Statement
Comcast-NBCU Consent Decree
Comcast-NBCU Stipulation and Order
DOJ News ReleaseFCC News Release
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