Originally published: May 2, 2010
Last updated: May 2, 2010 - 4:06pm
[Commentary] Television station owners affiliated with NBC are nervous about the proposed merger with Comcast. They believe that a Comcast-controlled NBC is more likely to go direct to cable, cutting them out of distribution chain. Imagine how impotent an NBC affiliate would be in retransmission negotiation with Comcast if it knows that the cable operator could steal its affiliation.
The NBC affiliates fears pale against those of the ABC, CBS and Fox affiliates. For the past few months, they have been sitting around compiling lists of all the terrible things that could happen if they end up having to compete against an NBC O&O or affiliate working in cahoots with the local Comcast cable system.
Like what? Well, the system and NBC station could join together in selling local spots, even going so far as to merge sales forces.
Or, they could cross-promote. Comcast could use its bottomless well of local avails to promote the NBC station's programming -- local, syndicated and network.
Or, the Comcast system could enable the NBC station to offer zone advertising so it could target different ads to different neighborhoods.
Or, the Comcast system could enable the NBC station to offer interactive advertising by giving the station a return path through the set-top box.
Or, the Comcast system could give the NBC station exclusive access to set-top box viewing data for use in sales.
Or, the Comcast system could give the NBC station prime channel positions for its multicast channels, putting them adjacent to the other broadcast channels rather than, say, the World Fishing Network on Ch. 317. Or, the Comcast system could insure that the NBC station had the prettiest picture in town by not compressing its signal. It could also carry multicast channels in HD, even if they are not broadcast in HD.
Or, the Comcast system could cut a sweetheart retrans deal with its NBC station partner in which it would get carriage for next to nothing. Such a deal would put downward pressure on retrans fees throughout the market.
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