TV dispute could heighten scrutiny of Comcast-NBC Universal merger

The dispute was resolved on Saturday when Cablevision agreed to Fox's terms. Cablevision subscribers regained access to Fox channels.

But analysts predict there could be an offshoot to the dispute. It could ensure that the mega-merger between Comcast and NBC Universal will be subject to stronger FCC scrutiny, the report says.

“In light of the Cablevision-Fox dispute, there is clearly more attention being paid to program access, making restrictions more likely,” James Radcliffe, a Barclays Capital analyst, wrote in an investor note.

The concern is that NBC could withhold its programming from Comcast rivals. To avoid this, FCC conditions could mirror those that bound News Corporation in 2003 when it acquired a majority stake in DirecTV, according to the report.

The conditions required that News Corp accept arbitration during programming disputes. It also required that the company not black out programming. The conditions no longer apply.