By Gautham Nagesh - 08/20/10 03:00 PM EDT
Polka said without the conditions the new company would have "unmatched leverage in traditional and online media markets to harm competitive cable and satellite operators by driving up their programming costs to very troublesome levels."
Specifically, the ACA want local NBC stations and regional sports networks to be sold separately rather than bundled with other channels. The group also wants the FCC to ban Comcast from charging smaller carriers more than five percent above the rate they charge their best customers to carry individual channels.
Asked for a response, a Comcast spokesperson said the issues raised by ACA are industry-wide —not unique to the Comcast-NBCU deal — and pointed to comments filed by the ACA in January 2008 on program access rulemaking as evidence the group has previously made the same complaints regarding other network owners besides NBC Universal.
A separate blog post by Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen cited the support of more than 250 federal, state and local elected officials for the merger. He dismissed the opposition as rival carriers seeking a competitive edge and interest groups using this opportunity to air long-held grievances.
He also disputed the notion the new entity would have unprecedented influence over the media market, pointing out the merger of AOL-Time Warner was valued much higher at the time it was announced.
"Not surprisingly, a few perennial critics of entertainment and communications companies have made apocalyptic predictions, just like they’ve made for years and years. The credibility of their arguments is thoroughly undercut by today’s dynamic competitive media marketplace. While some of those critics claim this transaction is unprecedented in its size, the facts show they’re simply wrong," Cohen said.