Public Knowledge director Harold Feld said that one way to look at the Comcast/NBCU transaction was to use what he called the trade association scale – that is, how many new trade associations would the surviving entity be eligible to join? He said on a scale of 1-10, Comcast/NBC would be a 10.
Feld didn’t even bother to mention Comcast’s eligibility to be an active member in the National Cable and Telecommunications Association; he did say that the newfound eligibility to get into the National Association of Broadcasters was remarkable.
“In ideological terms, “ Feld wrote in a piece published at Huffington Post, “it is rather like Vatican City joining the Arab League — and as a dominant member. Few rivalries in the media world match those of cable operators and broadcasters, who have fought for regulatory advantage over one another since the FCC started regulating cable in the 1960s.”
Another new association which would be able to open its doors to Comcast would be the Motion Picture Association of America, which Feld suggested might give the company newfound access to Democratic legislators. He noted that MPAA has been one of the better associations when it comes to opposing cable interests; but in Comcast’s case there would be overlap.
He said wireless associations may be in Comcast’s future depending on how it decides to wield the spectrum that would come under its control.
Feld saw much opportunity for corporate mischief. To mention just one area where power could be applied unfairly, Comcast could put undue pressure on non-O&O NBC affiliates to sign retransmission agreements on Comcast’s terms. And groups with an ABC station on a Comcast system could be strong-armed by threats of retaliation on their NBC-affiliated stations in other markets.