Cablevision/Fox could spill over on to Comcast/NBCU


Programming properties of News Corp./Fox Television recently came to terms on retransmission contracts with two MVPDs – Cablevision and DISH Network. But the disruptions in service that came with both negotiations could delay the pending merger of Comcast and NBCU, and possibly burden it with condition.

Regulatory review of the merger figured to spill into 2011 anyway – but it is believed that the contentious battles of the very recent past are going to fuel even closer scrutiny of the powers that may accrue to the combined entity should the Comcast/NBCU deal go through.

A primary concern, according to The Hill’s Hillicon Valley, is that Comcast will have enormous leverage via the ability deprive rival MVPDs of NBC programming during retransmission negotiations.

The possible remedy: a built-in arbitration requirement, something Cablevision was clamoring for during its recent dispute with Fox but which broadcasters have been strenuously resisting.

RBR-TVBR observation: If nothing else, competing elements in the electronic entertainment business have shown that they cannot be counted on to work and play together nicely. This should be no surprise – that’s what competition is all about. However, it will be very interesting to see what kind of traction the issue gets in the newly-aligned House of Representatives. Stay tuned.