Feds probe allegations that Comcast violated NBCUniversal concessions

DetailsMichelle Clancy | 31 May 2015

Regulators have been probing allegations that No. 1 cable MSO Comcast violated agreements it made as part of its 2011 acquisition of NBCUniversal.

The New York Post is reporting that the Justice Dept. and FCC are looking into the charges, which came up during the public comment period of the review for Comcast's plan to acquire Time Warner Cable.

The claims range from Comcast interfering in areas it promised not to, and not supporting initiatives that it had promised to. For instance, there are allegations that Comcast tied linear programming negotiations with digital deals in order to strong-arm programmers into more favourable terms for mobile and online distribution. Sources said that other issues include that Comcast paid only lip service to its commitment to minority programming—Black- and Hispanic-focused channels were given carriage deals, but in such limited scope that their businesses aren’t viable.

Another allegation says that the cableco broke its commitment to remain a silent partner in Hulu, getting involved to block the online service from being sold by 21st Century Fox and Disney, its other owners.

“They’re sitting on a ton of potential evidence,” one source told the Post. “They’re asking themselves if they can create a separate proceeding or whether they need a new complaint to allow [the evidence] to be introduced.”