Consumers Union Raises Concerns about NBC-Comcast

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, February 3, 2010, Washington, DC— The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust and the House Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet will hold separate hearings on Thursday, February 4, about the proposed sale of NBC-Universal to Comcast, Corp.

Mark Cooper, Director of Research for Consumer Federation of America, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and NBC-Universal CEO Jeff Zuckerman will testify at both hearings. Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, joined Consumer Federation of America in submitting testimony.

In anticipation of the hearings, Consumers Union Policy Analyst, Joel Kelsey, made the following statement:

“This should be the first of many hearings on this media merger, which is colossal in its scope and size. If you allow a TV network that owns 26 television stations, 29 cable networks, and one of five major movie studios to merge with the nation’s largest cable company and residential broadband provider, there is great potential for significant consumer harm. This merged giant is likely to result in higher cable and Internet rates for consumers, less free online video content and fewer choices for consumers. Congress should look at this merger with a very skeptical eye. Lawmakers need to stand up and be a voice for consumers.”

NBC-Universal Fact sheet:

26 television stations, owned under the “NBC Universal” division.

Cable Channels: NBC Entertainment, NBC News, NBC Sports, NBC Television, NBC Universal, CNBC, CNBC World (Arabia, India, Asia, Europe), MSNBC, Bravo, Sci Fi Channel, Telemundo, USA, Oxygen, Weather Plus, Mun2, Sleuth, Chiller, Universal HD, A&E Networks (25%; includes A&E, the History Channel, History en español, the Biography Channel, Military History Channel, Crime & Investigation Network, A&E HD, the History Channel HD, History International), the Weather Channel (partial), Sci-Fi Channel HD.

Online Video: Currently, NBC owns 32 percent of online video distributor Hulu.

Production Studio: NBC Universal has 80 percent ownership of Universal Pictures, Focus Features and Rogue Pictures, as well as production agreements with other smaller production companies.

Comcast Fact Sheet:

Cable Provider: Comcast Corporation is the nation’s largest video provider and largest residential Internet service provider. According to Comcast, as of September 2009, the company has 23.8 million cable subscribers and 15.7 million high speed Internet subscribers. Comcast serves customers in 39 states and the District of Columbia.

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Contact: Kristina Edmunson, kedmunson@consumer.org or David Butler, dbutler@consumer.org, 202-462-6262

Consumers Union of United States, Inc., publisher of Consumer Reports®, is a nonprofit membership organization chartered in 1936 to provide consumers with information, education, and counsel about goods, services, health and personal finance. Consumers Union’s publications and services have a combined paid circulation of approximately 8.3 million. These publications regularly carry articles on Consumers Union’s own product testing; on health, product safety, and marketplace economics; and on legislative, judicial, and regulatory actions that affect consumer welfare. Consumers Union’s income is solely derived from the sale of Consumer Reports®, its other publications and services, fees, noncommercial contributions and grants. Consumers Union’s publications and services carry no outside advertising and receive no commercial support.