Why Conditions are Needed in Comcast-NBCU Merger

Will the Comcast-NBCU merger mark the beginning of the end for online video?

Cardozo Law School Professor Susan Crawford thinks so.

Crawford warns that the merger is aimed at consolidating Comcast's market power and preempting it from meaningfully competing with other service providers:

Competing aggregators of online video who don't have reasonable access to crucial NBCU content (particularly sports) won't have the power to constrain Comcast's prices. Comcast ties access to online video content it controls to a cable subscription, and Time Warner does the same thing with its content. Many of the other pay TV providers will cooperate in this plan, which goes by the nickname "TV Everywhere". This means that independent online aggregators don't stand a chance -- because consumers will be used to getting highly-branded online video for "free" as part of their bundle from their ISP, they won't be willing to pay for an independent service.

Without targeted rules and oversight, Comcast-NBCU's post-merger market share and pricing power will give it broad discretion over what people can view, how quickly they can view it and how much they pay for the privilege.

The Communications Workers of America supports imposing targeted conditions on the Comcast-NBCU merger that will guarantee a competitive and fair market for Internet and cable television content.

Comcast's NBC-U Dreams May Be Online Video's Nightmare (Gigaom)

Comcast-NBC Universal Merger: Petition (CWA)