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U.S. Senate writes NBC over Pay-TV, Winter Olympics link

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 28 Feb 2010 7:06 User comments (1)

U.S. Senate writes NBC over Pay-TV, Winter Olympics link U.S. Senator Herbert Kohl (D), chairman of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, has written a letter to NBC Chief Executive Jeff Zucker asking for an explanation of a Pay-TV link to Internet-based Winter Olympics videos. Kohl expressed concerns that certain content on the NBC site is only viewable by those who have Pay-TV subscriptions.
Kohl has a very valid concern in this case, because if NBC wanted to raise revenue from its coverage of the Vancouver events, it could simply charge users for premium online content. Instead, when users register to view the games' feeds, they are asked to verify themselves as a Cable TV, Satellite TV or IPTV service subscriber - in other words, a subscriber to services provided by a third party.

This raises enormous suspicions for a politician in Kohl's place, as Comcast/NBC Universal merger is looming. "I fear that this practice of locking up certain content only for pay-TV subscribers may be a preview of what is to come with respect to TV programing shown on the Internet, particularly in the context of the proposed Comcast/NBC Universal merger," Kohl wrote in the letter to NBC.

The possible merger between Comcast, which is a provider of cable television services, and NBC Universal which deals with the content side of the business, has been scrutinized in Congress and by consumer rights' groups, who fear that giving a cable operator control over content could have detrimental effects for consumers.

Under the proposed deal, Comcast plans to buy 51 percent of NBC Universal, now owned by General Electric. Kohl's concern about the Pay-TV subscription requirement is that it may be linked to the merger and could be a taste of whats to come in the future for Internet video content.

NBC responded to the letter in an e-mail statement simply spelling out the financial burden that covering the Vancouver events is. "This three-part offering has been structured to provide the financial support to help justify that investment, and bring U.S. fans the high-quality, professionally produced content they demand," the company said in the statement.

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1 user comment

128.2.2010 15:45

If you can't afford to broadcast the Olympics NBC. Then maybe you shouldn't keep that hack of a comedian (Jay Leno) on your payroll.

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