The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Comcast merges with NBC

Ten months after NBC was acquired by KableTown in the former’s self-parodying comedy “30 Rock,” NBC-Universal itself merged with cable giant Comcast Corp.

Jack Donaghy couldn’t have closed the deal any better.

“The merger is a very significant development for both Comcast and NBC,” said Sumana Chattopadhyay, a Marquette assistant professor of broadcast and electronic communication, in an e-mail. “The merger will enable Comcast and NBC to merge the former’s cable and Internet systems with the latter’s channels and become a really powerful presence in the media landscape.”

The Federal Communications Commission approved the merger last Wednesday, with several conditions. Many, including former NBC comedic star-turned U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), have argued the merger represents a threat to the neutrality of the media industry, and especially the Internet.

“This is a first-time ever event because a cable company has never controlled a broadcast network prior to this,” Chattopadhyay said. “Given the nature of the merger, it is natural for lawmakers and consumers to worry about what repercussions a merger like this might have for net neutrality. However, at least for the next seven years the FCC has imposed some conditions on Comcast which might ease some of the net neutrality fears.”

The FCC cautioned Comcast against getting involved in the management of NBC’s Hulu, an online television-viewing service.

The announcement comes after the FCC’s introduction of “net neutrality” rules, which seek to maintain the neutrality of the Internet by banning content blocking and requiring transparency from Internet service providers, among other things. But the restrictions can be infuriating, said Charles Breeden, an associate professor of economics.

“Why in the world the government regulators would want to screw around with the Internet?” Breeden said in an

Comcast is paving the way for other television providers.

e-mail. “In my humble opinion, government bureaucrats are incapable of effectively regulating a bowel movement, much less one of the most dynamic, powerful, and immensely complex phenomena of our lives.”

Breeden said that with more complex phenomena like the Internet, regulation is best done through the natural competition between media companies and the choices of media consumers.

“Case in point, if you don’t like the product put out by Comcast/NBC, tune in to another channel, or get a satellite dish,” Breeden said.

Chattopadhyay also said the FCC’s approval signals a change in its policy.

“Despite imposing all these conditions on Comcast, FCC’s approval does signal a shift of sorts in FCC policy,” Chattopadhyay said.

The merger could produce positive effects. Robert Machado, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, believes the deal will result in “a greater concentration of media power, which can either be good because it removes inconsistencies, or bad because it makes it easier to be biased.”

Chattopadhyay said regardless of the merger’s effects, more deals like this one should be expected soon.

“Given that we live in a world of convergence where things keep changing constantly, we will be seeing more major media mergers like these in the not very distant future,” she said.

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