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Television Entertainment

Comcast In Deal Talks With NBC Universal 160

schwit1 sent us an LA Times article about another step in the seemingly unending media consolidation. This time it's Cable giant Comcast Corp. looking at NBC. NBC owns a slew of channels, including Bravo, USA and Syfy (who might have the single lamest rebranding since Spike). The article says that it would be far cheaper than the Disney deal Comcast tried to pull off 5 years ago.
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Comcast In Deal Talks With NBC Universal

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  • Consolidation ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by foobsr ( 693224 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @08:55AM (#29604425) Homepage Journal
    ... interesting how the semantics (or maybe it is pragmatics) of a word make any further comment obsolete.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @08:55AM (#29604431) Journal

    .....the content, the distribution channel, and the local government-granted monopoly over neighborhoods, then they control the minds of the people.

    • by j00r0m4nc3r ( 959816 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @09:09AM (#29604523)
      Well maybe some of the people. Not everyone is locked into Comcast. In fact, nobody is truly locked into Comcast. But perhaps we should start looking for an exposed ventilation shaft that leads to the core of their mothership just in case.
      • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Thursday October 01, 2009 @09:19AM (#29604607)
        Actually, cable-wise you pretty much *are* locked into them if they have the cable franchise in your city and you can't use satellite (your house faces the wrong way, live in an apartment, etc.). And even on the broadband internet side, most people only have 2 or 3 options at the most. In my city, if you don't go Comcast for broadband, the only other option is AT&T DSL (which is limited to a measly 3 Mbps in this city).
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by donaggie03 ( 769758 )
          You seem to have missed a subtle but quite important work in GP's post. " ...nobody is TRULY locked into Comcast . ." So yeah, you can argue about how they have a monopoly in certain areas and some people can't get a satellite connection, but at the end of the day, no one has to sit there watching cable television. If Comcast is the big evil monopoly in your area, and you are anti-Comcast, then just don't watch cable*. So, no. . . nobody is truly locked in.

          *Most OTA stations let you stream the newest
          • but at the end of the day, no one has to sit there watching cable television. If Comcast is the big evil monopoly in your area, and you are anti-Comcast, then just don't watch cable*.

            Should people in Comcast areas who can't get DSL (for whatever reason) go back to dial-up?

            • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:49AM (#29605811) Journal

              "Yes they can go back to dialup." by donaggie03

              Okay that isn't fair but I suspect if he were here, and completely honest, that's exactly what he would say. He argues that Comcast is not a monopoly and people have other choices, but he forgets the alternative (50k dialup) is not really a valid choice. You can do a lot over dialup including bittorrent, but you can't watch or or other tv sites. ----- Also even in areas that have both cable and DSL, that's still just a duopoly... no better than our current political system.

              • Given how much Comcast costs in my area, a good solution for me, if I didn't have decently price ATT uverse here, would be to use an iphone data plan (not limited to 5gb like the others) and use the sim card with a router. about 5 mbps on the new 3gs currently (slower than advertised, but really, what do you expect?). That is fast enough to stream from hulu et al.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ElSupreme ( 1217088 )
            Yes and I actually did this. I am so ANTI-COMCAST that I went 2 years with crappy ATT DSL, and NO cable TV.

            And in a month I will be living on a street with 2 competing Cable providers!!!!! So I can hopefully haggle one down to about 50% normal rates and pay an acceptable amount.
            And I will spout my discount as PROOF of monopolistic, and price fixing tactics on NO COMPETITION cable providers.
            • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:53AM (#29605861) Journal

              >>>I will be living on a street with 2 competing Cable providers!!!!

              Every urban street in the U.S. should have this. And not just 2 providers, but maybe 4 or 5. It is only through competition that you break the back of a monopoly, plus giving choice to the consumer empowers them to run their own lives.

              • How do you split up a cable line or fibre lines between multiple providers? The best way is to have a shared network where it is split fairly between the providers using the line. The maintainer is payed by the providers using it. This is already done with DSL, cable is not required to do so. Problem is, the DSL owner gets an unfair edge and bandwidth over the other providers despite being required to allow others to use it (and still pay them a use fee.)

                The solution should be obvious:
                A single maintainer

                • (1) You can't multitask a cable TV line because it's already full. From 10 megahertz upto 2000+ megahertz, it's filled by TV, radio, and internet service. So there's just room for ONE company - you can't multiplex the cable with others.

                  (2) Therefore the best solution IMHO is to just revoke Comcast's monopoly, and open the market for Cox, Time-Warner, and other companies to lay their own cable through the pipes underneath suburbs. Yes that's duplication but so what? Cables are cheap and take-up little r

          • Sorry, mate, but this logic does not hold up. The term monopoly refers to having exclusive control over one branch of an industry -- if Comcast has no competitors it is a monopoly, regardless of your decision to simply not watch TV.
        • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @09:49AM (#29604961)

          Yeah, I pay for basic cable service even though it is not plugged into my TV. That's because I want fast internet access and Comcast has bundled them such that signing up for a cable TV service I don't use, saves me money. That is pretty much a conclusive indicator of a broken market that needs to be addressed by antitrust regulators.

          • Really? For me, getting just the single service Internet was at laest $20 cheaper, even with all the ridiculous lock-in specials Comcast offers. Which saved me enough for a Netflix account, which with all the TV on Hulu is all I really need for entertainment.

        • by eht ( 8912 )

          How can your house face the wrong way? Instead of putting the dish on the back on the house, put it on the front, or put it on the ground.

          Many people in my apartment complex have dishes, and your landlord can not forbid you from installing one due to FCC regs.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by tepples ( 727027 )

            How can your house face the wrong way?

            Tall radio-opaque building to your south*, or your apartment is on the north* side of the building.

            *Invert this in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, or Brazil.

        • Yeah but you can put up a dish no matter what your apartment manager says. You can put up the biggest most unsightly satelite dish (on TV antenna) despite the most aggressive HOA. You are protected by the FEDS!

          • False. There's a size limit on how big the dish or antenna can be, and there's also a limit of 12(?) feet above the roofline. I have to admit I like the idea of challenging the housing association tyranny. Bunch of control freaks.

            • Ok but really are you going to use larger than a 1m dish? And if you live in AK you have no such limit.
        • by asv108 ( 141455 ) <asv@ivoss. c o m> on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:07AM (#29605187) Homepage Journal
          Comcast will probably use the growth of FIOS as the excuse for why the merger should be passed.
        • Even if you can use satellite you can still be locked to Comcast. I have DirecTV and noticed the VS channel was off the other day with the message that Comcast owns it and was trying to charge some higher rate for DTV to carry it.

        • you can't use satellite (your house faces the wrong way, live in an apartment, etc.).

          Was M.C. Escher the architect for your house, per-chance? Every house I've ever seen happens to have 4 walls, each facing a different compass orientation. And you know, you don't really have to embed a satellite dish into your house. Once you bolt it to the building, you can aim it 360 degrees... You can do crazy stuff, like mounting it to the north side of your house, and aim it south, pointing over the roof!

          In my city

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Thursday October 01, 2009 @09:13AM (#29604557)
      We're already down to just a few companies that control virtually every media producer and distribution pipeline in the country. It's little surprise these guys oppose net neutrality. Without some sort of government imposed net neutrality, they can essentially shut out even the indie media producers from online distribution. Then they would control pretty much everything we see and hear (or, more importantly, DON'T see and hear).
      • What you forget is that every time these companies consolidate it is approved by all the regulating bodies of the government, whether it be the FCC or FTC.

        These companies have yet to do what you've said they will do on a large scale although there is supposedly nothing stopping them. What is stopping them is their customers. People won't stand for it. If you allow the government to regulate the internet in this way it opens the door to these companies lobbying the government to change the rules in their fav

    • by MRe_nl ( 306212 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @09:13AM (#29604559)

      Critiques of media consolidation involve a number of issues and notions:
      That consolidation and globalization of media over the past decade have been massive.
      That media consolidation is served by government deregulation and subsidization of
      the airwaves.
      That media consolidation and globalization are viewed as predecessors of global
      That the bottom line of corporate media is profit, not content.
      That media industries have become media oligopolies, that is, media conglomerates
      are not agents of a democratic citizenry, but of a business and state elite.
      That critiques of globalization and corporate power are marginalized.
      That media audiences are treated as consumers rather than citizens.
      That the traditional notion of media having a public interest obligation has
      That democratically-based media outlets have expanded and while marginalized
      provide an alternative to corporate media messages. []

      • Say good bye to Hulu (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Glenstorm ( 117502 )

        Fabulous, just when we have an alternative to the cable delivery system become viable. . . I am curious how much this plays into Comcast's desire for NBC. They see people making an end run around their monopoly and are implementing this plan to plug the gap.

    • by qw0ntum ( 831414 )
      Remember last time an ISP (yes, I know Comcast does more than that) bought a media company? The world was introduced to AOL Time Warner.

      Probably don't have too much to worry about.
      • AOL-TW was a victim of bad timing, merging just prior to an economic meltdown (dot-com crash). Comcast-NBC will be merging while the economy is on the rise.

        • by qw0ntum ( 831414 )
          Perhaps. Either way, you make a great point in your GP post.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by powerlord ( 28156 )

          Add to that one other word that most people seem to be leaving out of the thoughts: Hulu

          Hulu was started and is still back in large part by NBC.

          It is a distribution mechanism that has the potential to completely obsolete Cable Companies (except as ISPs), and buying NBC might give Comcast a stake in the company, or at least a say in the direction of the company ("Maybe we should run more adverts", "how about a three week delay and only show the last two episodes", "we really shouldn't run 'cable exclusive'

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Comcast-NBC will be merging while the economy is on the rise

          Do you really believe that the economy is on the rise? That pumping a couple of trillion dollars of debt into it has magically fixed all of the problems? We'll see a short-term improvement, perhaps, but in the long term we're just building it up to be worse than it ever would have without government "stimulus", tarp, and other such foolishness. /uninformed-but-common-sense-opinion

          • >>>Do you really believe that the economy is on the rise?

            There are two answers I can provide:

            The real answer - no we're about to experience massive devaluation of the dollar (i.e. a loss of your savings). Or the funny answer: "Yes absolutely. This I know because Obama loves me so... red, yellow, black, or white, all are equal in his sight". LINK - []

            • I would say if you have any money to convert to Euros, you should do so. I have heard some comments that this is because the dollar is not based upon gold anymore. We'll the Euro isn't based upon anything other than faith. The dollar is really based upon oil as most oil payments are made this way. This is bad news for us. Also many other countries no longer have faith in the dollar and will be dumping it sooner rather than later. This has been happening since the dot com bubble and the lowering of interest

          • It's the fallacy that an economy can be built on information, instead of raw goods. That's what's going to do us in in the end. Information is cheap, and the rest of the world is rapidly catching up or exceeding the US in knowledge manufacture...

            Physical goods... real physical scarcity. Therein lies wealth (and an entirely different set of problems).
          • We'll see a short-term improvement, perhaps, but in the long term we're just building it up to be worse than it ever would have without government "stimulus", tarp, and other such foolishness.

            Yes, indeed. Does everyone remember "The Second Great Depression"? You know, the one that was larger than the first? How FDR's New Deal in the 1930's was such a failure, and as a result, the economy just got worse in the 40s and 50s? Sure you do! It happened, I tell you!

    • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

      When they control the content and the distribution, they lose the "the company upstream is forcing us to encrypt the channels" excuse.

      Comcast currently doesn't want me as a customer, so they encrypt their channels to make sure I can't watch them and pay them money. I think it really pissed them off when I gave them money over and over again, month after month, year after year, back in the analog days when you plugged the cable into a receiver and everything "Just Worked."

      But if they own the channel, now wh

  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @08:56AM (#29604441) Journal
    While the news came out, Comcast has since denied [] it is in a deal to purchase NBC Universal.

    Granted, this is Comcast who is most certainly looking for ways to expand its monopoly and further control what people watch, but for now, there is no deal for them to purchase NBC Universal.
    • The rumor that Comcast came out against is not that they are dealing but that a deal and are just finishing the last parts of it.
      The CNN report is just badly worded.
    • Comcast only said "While we do not normally comment on [mergers and acquisitions] rumors, the report that Comcast has a deal to purchase NBC Universal is inaccurate." The inaccuracy could've been in some details of the report, or whether such a deal would actually happen, but they didn't specify which (in that quote).

      PR guys love to reveal without revealing and lie without lying. A failure to do either leaves the company vulnerable.

      • Considering NBC Universal is a subsidiary of General Electric, one of the largest companies on the planet; my guess would be that the inaccuracy in the details of the report are that NBC is looking to buy Comcast rather than vise-versa.
    • Of course they denied it. If it got out that they were looking to buy NBC Universal, the stock price would rise thereby increasing the purchase price as speculators bought up stock in the hopes of a big payday when the buyout came around. That would be something they'd want to avoid.
  • Imagine what your rates will be if they have control of more stations?

    Comcast is already playing hardball with DirecTV over Versus. []

  • by the saltydog ( 450856 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @09:22AM (#29604653) Homepage

    When the deal is complete, Comcast will raise the rates to carry their newly acquired channels to DirecTV, to ridiculously insane levels, just like they did with the Versus channel... all in an effort to try putting DirecTV out of business. After the royal shafting they tried sticking those of us with their Internet service, but not their cable TV service* (which they referred to as "bundling", but which was, in reality, a "satellite tax"), I will never spend another cent with those greedy bastards. Fuck Comcast.**

    *I had AT&T Broadband, and when Comcast bought them out, they decided to modify their price structure to bring it in line with the rest of the country (their words). In doing so, my bill went from $32.95/mo., to $37.95, to $42.95, and then to $57.95/mo., in the span of less than 10 months. (No promotional rates were involved, either.) The last increase of FIFTEEN dollars a month was because I didn't have cable TV. Funny that I didn't have it at the beginning, and only paid $32.95 a month to AT&T, for the exact same level of speed and service. As far as I'm concerned, Comcast is even more evil and untrustworthy as Microsoft, which is really saying something. Stay classy, Comcast!

    **Come on already, Qwest - where's the FTTH that your commercials keep trying to pitch to me, but I STILL can't get, less than 5 miles from Downtown St. Paul?!?

    • >>>I had AT&T Broadband, and when Comcast bought them out,

      How is it legal for a single company to own BOTH the internet companies in your neighborhood (cable and dsl)? Sounds like a reason to file an antitrust lawsuit.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by spitzak ( 4019 )

        How is it legal for a single company to own BOTH the internet companies in your neighborhood (cable and dsl)? Sounds like a reason to file an antitrust lawsuit.

        OMG! Socialism! How dare you!

        • I don't hate the idea of socialism. I just hate the results. I think we're better served by competing companies, and empowering the people with freedom of choice.

          SSI - runs out of money in 2016 (according to the CBO)
          Medicare - same
          Post Office - deep deep in debt
          Amtrak - deep deep in debt
          U.S. government - deep deep in debt; had to beg the rich Chinese for cash, or else collapse.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by spitzak ( 4019 )

            What I meant was making the government do anything is often dismissed as "socialism" even if in this case it is to force competition.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pckl300 ( 1525891 )

      As far as I'm concerned, Comcast is even more evil and untrustworthy as Microsoft, which is really saying something. Stay classy, Comcast!

      It figures your experience was horrible. In the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Comcast has received the lowest customer satisfaction rating of any organization in the US, including the IRS.

  • Rebranding? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Blink Tag ( 944716 )

    Syfy has the single lamest rebranding since Spike?

    I think you're forgetting The Shack []

  • Comcast sucks....... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Watsonr8 ( 1645895 )
    Comcast sucks......... limited channels HD and standard, your bill is never what they say it will be my bill jumped from $69.99 a month to $150.00, and this week i order a new dv recorder box and they offered for a tech to come out and "install" the box for the small fee of $99. i had to laugh. Hate to see what they have in store for us with even more of a monopoly.....
  • I hope this means good things for my Sheinhardt Wig Company shares!
  • by maggotsforbreakfast ( 1646317 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @09:45AM (#29604923)
    NEW YORK ( -- Telecom giant Comcast is buying privately held, a top web destination firm, for $3.1 billion in cash, the companies said Friday afternoon. Comcast is set to purchase from private equity firm Hellman & Friedman, which bought the website in 2005 for $1.1 billion in a deal that took the company private. For Comcast, the deal will likely help boost its presence in the area of Internet display advertising, ads on banners, videos and other non-text based types of ads. specializes on placing and serving banners and other display ads on its prominent Web site. "Comcast is the 800-pound gorilla in online services. They were before this merger and they will be tomorrow so on one level this doesn't change anything," said Derek Brown, an analyst with Cantor Fitzgerald. "But at the same time, this deal clearly has the potential to ignite Comcast's efforts in the display ad market and down the road gives them the opportunity to create a platform that marries both their services and display ads in a way that it will be hard to fathom others imitating," Brown added.
    • by sorak ( 246725 )

      When collapsed that reads as "In other news comcast also set to purchase...
      NEW YORK"

      If you thought your rent was high before, wait until Comcast is your landlord.

  • **sarcasm** Don't see why not, they did such a good job with TechTV.
  • No ads? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Malc ( 1751 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:00AM (#29605075)

    So if the distributor owns the content creator, does that mean no ads? I grew up with paying the equivalent of $20/month for TV and getting no ads, so I found it highly irritating in N. America paying $40/month or more, and being bombarded with the most mindless of advertising.

    Dream on.

  • if nbc will be run anything like comcasts cable modem division, I assume I will get to watch about 10 minutes of jay lenos new show, then nbc will "go down", at which point I will call into nbc, ask them what the problem is, have them tell me they can see my tv just fine so the problem must be on my end. I'll restart my cable box, but no change. After another 20 minutes on the phone they will tell me more people in my area have reported an issue and that a technician is on the way to the main nbc studio.
  • "There can be only one"

    But in this case, no sword battles and cool lighting effects will be involved.

System restarting, wait...