NBC to viewers: Speak now or never

The Comcast Center in Philadelphia, and an NBC sign at its studios in Burbank, Calif.


Steve Chiotakis: Well over the next few weeks, NBC television viewers may tune in for their favorite programs to find, instead, a version of this announcement:

NBC Comcast Announcement: On January 28, 2010, an application was filed with the Federal Communications Commission for approval of the transfer of control of NBC . . .

That legalese relates to the sale of NBC-Universal to Comcast. Now why should you care about the fine print on the deal? Here's Marketplace's Jeff Tyler.

Jeff Tyler: The announcement is the legal equivalent of "Speak now or forever hold your peace." The proposed deal would marry two media giants, NBC Universal and Comcast. The public has about a month to raise objections with the Federal Communications Commission.

Andrew Schwartzman is CEO of the Media Access Project. He argues that the merger could kill competition from the Internet sites like Hulu and home video companies like Netflix.

Andrew Schwartzman: Netflix is concerned that Comcast will withhold the Universal Pictures films, which Comcast is acquiring, from Netflix. So that the only way that you can get this large stable of motion picture films is by subscribing to Comcast.

And he's concerned about more merger announcements from other companies.

Schwartzman: We fear that if this transaction is approved, there will be a rush for additional consolidation and more sales will take place.

But for now, the NBC-Comcast merger announcement will continue to air on TV through the month. Public notices will also run in newspapers, as required by law.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.


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