Consumer groups cry foul over 'TV Everywhere'

Free Press, Consumers Union, New America Foundation and Public Knowledge are among the public interest groups pushing Congress, the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department to investigate the "TV Everywhere" initiative. The groups say it is an attempt by phone, satellite and cable companies to stamp out competition by requiring consumers to pay for a pay-TV subscription to access online programming.

Comcast was the first to announce the initiative Dec. 15, branded "Fancast Xfinity." Free Press immediately attacked it as being anti-competitive. (Check this post out for views about the future of online programming; UBS predicts by 2012, the bulk of online video will be paid content.

Parul Desai of Media Access Project said, "This is an important test for Congress and the antitrust authorities to make sure dominant old media companies don't kill off potential sources of innovative, new competition just as consumers are getting accustomed to the possibility of that new competition."

Comcast has said the "TV Everywhere" product is meant to let paying subscribers access a wider variety of content on platforms other than their TV.

The letter sent to antitrust regulators can be found here, and Free Press's report on the matter is here.

The Washington Post ran this story today about the news.