WASHINGTON D.C. - Today, it was announced that Comcast has reached a deal to acquire a majority stake in NBC Universal. Ken Ferree, Senior Fellow at The Progress & Freedom Foundation, had the following comments:
Like Carnac the Magnificent, I can confidently predict that various advocacy groups will hoot and holler that Comcast's stake in NBC Universal is another sign that the sky is falling. It's not. Simply put, the deal raises no general antitrust or diversity issue. Comcast is primarily a distribution company, not a content company like NBCU. And to the extent that programming withholding ever becomes an issue in an individual market, such conduct can be addressed on a case-by-case basis (preferably by antitrust authorities with expertise in the area rather than the FCC). Indeed, in times of economic uncertainty, I feel compelled to once again ask why we have inefficient, redundant review of proposed business combinations by both the FCC and antitrust regulators. Every new layer of regulatory review raises the costs of transactions, increases the uncertainty in the market, and discourages productive economic activity. It is far past time for Congress to pull the FCC's nose out of these deals and to streamline the federal role in reviewing business transactions.
Ferree is available for further comment. Please contact Amy Smorodin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.