The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department approved of the proposed merger of Comcast and NBC on Tuesday, clearing the way for the deal to close by the end of January. Naturally, the federal nods came with lots of conditions attached. The union between Comcast and NBC represents the first time a cable company will run a major network and the combination of Comcast’s cable networks and NBC’s channels will result in a media powerhouse (perhaps too much?). So, what does this have to do with the Comcast-owned Golf Channel? Well, I don’t know much about the deal and business, but I can’t imagine anything other than positives coming out of it.
The F.C.C. vote was 4 to 1, with the senior Democratic commissioner, Michael J. Copps, casting the dissenting vote. Mr. Copps, who had expressed doubt in the past about whether the combination would benefit consumers, said in a statement Tuesday that it “confers too much power in one company’s hands.”
Mr. Copps also said, “The Comcast-NBCU joint venture opens the door to the cable-ization of the open Internet. The potential for walled gardens, toll booths, content prioritization, access fees to reach end users, and a stake in the heart of independent content production is now very real.”
Seeming to temper that concern, Julius Genachowski, the F.C.C. chair, said in his own statement that the conditions imposed by the F.C.C. “include carefully considered steps to ensure that competition drives innovation in the emerging online video marketplace.” He continued, “Our approval is also structured to spur broadband adoption among underserved communities; to increase broadband access to schools and libraries; and to increase news coverage, children’s television, and Spanish-language programming.”
From the whispers I’ve heard, Dick Ebersol, who runs NBC Sports Universal, will be taking a hands-on approach to dealing with the Golf Channel — which is supposed to be a good thing, so I hear. Maybe it’s just what they need in Orlando and to take the programming to the next level (translation: less PR-y, make telecasts and shows more entertaining and interesting, like some other mainstream sports coverage).