Editor’s Note: This first appeared in BigGovernment.com.
Comcast and NBC-Universal (NBCU) have been waiting to merge for, well, ever. Or at least it seems that way.
Mergers of this sort are supposed to be approved within 180 days of applying to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Justice Department for permission. (As offensive as that may sound – two companies reaching mutually agreeable business terms having to then play Mother May I with the government – that is the way it currently goes.)
Those 180 days expired sometime around Thanksgiving. Yet here we are halfway through January – and Comcast and NBCU are still awaiting the FCC’s blessing. The delay is just another example of the incredible and incredibly damaging sway Media Marxist and Leftist grievance groups have with the current Commission.
The delay has dangled Comcast-NBCU like a piñata, allowing these PIGs (“Public Interest” Groups) to beat shakedown concessions out of them and feed at the trough into which they fall.
We previously pointed out that a racial grievance group – the National Coalition of African-Owned Media (NCAOM) – is demanding that Comcast set aside 50 channels (10% of its capacity) for exclusively African American owners.
In June 2010, California Democrat Representative Maxine Waters and others were obnoxiously voicing their disapproval of the merger. (Yes, the same Maxine Waters who said she wanted to nationalize the entire oil industry.)
The House Judiciary Committee, then Chaired by Michigan Democrat Chairman John Conyers, convened a June 8th field hearing to examine the deal. But it was Representative Waters running the show – and it got ugly.
Waters said she wanted a “labor-intensive review” by the Justice Department because many independent writers and producers are “afraid to voice concerns” about the pending union of Comcast and NBC “for fear of blacklisting and other retaliation.”
Was there any evidence provided that these alleged fears were justified? Of course not. Much like Network Neutrality violations and unicorns, examples were scarce.
Stanley Washington, chief executive of the aforementioned NCAOM, was asked to testify – and called Comcast a “plantation” and said the company wasn’t doing enough to support African American-owned channels. (Hence the aforementioned channel quota shakedown payoff.)
And Net Neutrality was fully a part of the Comcast-NBCU process. Which again demonstrated the dangerous and damaging folly of allowing government too much control – which they abuse to hold companies hostage and their plans for ransom.
As has been much discussed, the FCC – knowingly without the authority to do so – made themselves Internet Overlords via a 3-2 Democrat Party-line vote on December 21st. They did this so as to then have the unauthorized authority to implement Net Neutrality – a policy both untethered from Reality and damaging to Comcast.
Did the threat of the FCC (further) messing with their merger cause Comcast to sit out the last, crucial stages of the Net Neutrality debate? Hmmm….
I will point out that just three days after the Net Neutrality vote, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced that he was ready to take a look at the Comcast-NBCU merger.
And The Chairman said he would do so only with (even more) conditions piled on. And many of these are coming straight from the Media Marxist wish list.
Let us look at perhaps the most egregious one of all, as it is Net Neutrality-related.
To get the merger approved, Comcast and NBC will HAVE to abide by the December 21st Net Neutrality order for AT LEAST SEVEN YEARS.
Again, the FCC – by its own acknowledgement – did not have the authority to impose Net Neutrality. So there are myriad moves already or potentially underway to undo this unabashed power grab, either in the Congress or the courts – or both.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton and Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison have both vowed to file a “resolution of disapproval” under the Congressional Review Act. Tennessee Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn has filed legislation to undo the FCC’s Christmas week usurpation. And it is highly likely that one or more of the companies damaged by the FCC’s Internet power grab will file suit to overturn it.
Just as Comcast did in the BitTorrent case the last time the FCC overreached and tried to impose Net Neutrality. A case Comcast unanimously won at the D.C. Circuit Court last April. (What short memories these FCC Overlords have.)
Suffice to say, the order is hardly set in stone.
So if Congress or the courts overturn the FCC’s Net Neutrality order, are Comcast and NBCU still obligated to adhere to this pre-condition? Which on top of everything else effects some actual price controls?
(Condition-mandated) Neutrality would play a role in pricing, both on the network and in offering content.
There are literally PAGES of conditions being foisted by the FCC. Written by bureaucrats who – like with health care, energy, the economy and myriad other private sector industries – don’t have a clue about the Internet or the unintended negative consequences of their rules.
There is bipartisan Congressional support for the merger – a group that rightly points out that these incessant delays are costing America and Americans jobs and investment.
But that could not, it seems, matter less to the FCC. They’d rather kowtow to ideological anti-capitalist PIGs than listen to the People’s representatives – or acknowledge the government-accountability sea change that took place at the ballot box November 2nd.
The FCC is now off the Constitutional and Congressional map – charting their own unauthorized course. And as the old sailor’s saying goes, out here there be monsters – and they’re demanding concessions.