[opendtv] Re: Comcast to be "unleashed" on rivals when NBC merger conditions expire
- From: Craig Birkmaier <brewmastercraig@xxxxxxxxxx>
- To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Sat, 16 Dec 2017 08:51:33 -0500
Looks like Jon Brodkin has multiple areas of “expertise;” now he is attacking
the vertical integration of distribution and content in the Comcast/NBC merger
and the AT&T/Time Warner merger.
I do have a little sympathy here, at least as it relates to these two mergers.
There is no compelling antitrust argument to block the AT&T/TW merger, if the
Comcast/NBC merger is allowed to stand.
But some of arguments Brodkin cites, are baseless, or do not take into
consideration the fact that ALL content owners have the power to force
one-sided carriage agreements, especially when retransmission consent is used
as a weapon. For example:
The American Cable Association (ACA), which represents nearly 800 small and
medium-sized cable operators, recently asked the FCC to investigate this
practice and prohibit it under its program access rules. Comcast is
increasingly making these demands in TV programming contract negotiations and
the practice could force its smaller rivals to raise their minimum cable TV
prices, the ACA said.
Yup. Just like they must raise prices every time a local broadcaster demands
higher retrans consent fees., often forcing operators to carry a bundle of
channels owned by the media conglom that a station is affiliated with.
Comcast/NBC has no special advantage here. Rather, they have had their hands
“loosely tied” under the consent agreement rules that are about to expire.
The other major flaw with this analysis is that the MVPD bundles are facing
increasing price pressure from the new VMVPD bundles. DirecTV Now already has 2
million subscribers. Sling TV, Hulu Live, and Sony PS/Vue are forcing the
legacy MVPDs to offer lower priced bundles, even if they ratchet up in price
after a year. The savvy MVPD subscribers know they can get another low priced
bundle if they threaten to cut the cord.
Clearly the congloms have massive power, which has largely been ignored by the
anti-trust police. My educated guess is that the content congloms are behind
efforts to block vertical integration mergers that give the telecoms a seat at
the table in “The Star Chamber.”
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