Arbitration may be condition for Comcast/NBCU approval


One of the chief concerns of MVPDs that compete with cable giant Comcast is that its acquisition of NBCU will give it power over must-have programming. Word is out that regulators examining the merger may install an arbitration process for dissatisfied Comcast/NBCU programming customers.

According to a Bloomberg report, arbitration would protect companies such as satellite MVPD DirecTV and DISH Network, among others, that need access to NBCU cable programs such as USA and Bravo.

Comcast also owns regional sports channels that are currently covered by an FCC-imposed arbitration process that is set to expire in 2012.

Critics of the arbitration process say that it is too expensive to be of much use to rival programmers.

According to Bloomberg, DISH has suggested using a streamlined process in which each side names a price and an arbitrator picks one or the other, as is used by major league baseball teams and players.