FCC acts on NBCU access dispute with internet startup


Comcast and NBCUA group of entrepreneurs wish to provide an internet programming service and wanted access to programming from Comcast/NBCU – specifically, new theatrical movies. Although one NBCU argument was rejected, it ultimately was able to protect the programming in question.

Even more specifically, the movies were those aired by Comcast/NBCU within one year of their theatrical release.

Comcast/NBCU argued that the access provisions it agreed to when its merger was approved should be understood as to not include such movies.

The FCC rejected that argument.

However, Comcast/NBCU also argued that its agreements with the providers of such movies prevented it from granting widespread access to other distribution platforms; in fact, handing them over to Project Concord would put it into contractual breaches with the movie providers.
The FCC agreed that Comcast/NBCU had provided a preponderance of evidence that there were major legal problems with providing access to the movies, and that its refusal was not anti-competitive but rather was “consistent with reasonable, common industry practice.”

The FCC also agreed that Comcast/NBCU did not engage in “unreasonable conduct” during the time the issue was under arbitration, and therefore did not honor a Project Concord request that Comcast/NBCU reimburse its legal expenses and other costs.

Project Concord’s website description of itself: “We were founded by a group of entrepreneurs who wanted to answer people’s calls for convenient and legal access to top movies and TV shows – but without the unwanted commercials or the need to reach into your wallet.”