Viacom Questions Comcast-NBC Universal Merger
Posted on Tue Dec 14, 2010 08:16 AM PDT

viacom200.jpgLOS ANGELES, California (X17online) - Reps from Viacom met with FCC officials last week to address concerns Comcast's proposed combination with NBC Universal would shut-down competition and independent programming.

Smaller competitors such as Bloomberg and DirecTV have been in the forefront with their concerns over the merger, as their companies will be effected the most. In contrast, most major media conglomerates have been quiet and have not filed any written concerns.

Viacom has been complaining Comcast "could use its market power to affect carriage of independent programming and impede competition" by favoring its own programming. Another issue is Comcast does not carry Epix, which is the premium cable channel partly owned by Viacom.

Comcast has promised to add non-affiliated cable channels to its lineup in the first few years after the transaction is completed. The company has said that the newly added channels would be "truly independent" and not from major media owners of cable networks.

In response to this, the incoming chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee Rep. Fred Upton warned: "Do not let opportunistic competitors or special interest groups undermine your regulatory process by using the transaction review as a vehicle to implement their industrywide policy wish lists or unwarranted conditions."

The FCC and the Justice Dept. have not set a date to announce their decision, but it is expected by the end of the year.