The Merger of Comcast and NBC Universal: Future Implications for the Video Distribution Market and the Internet
McLaughlin, Rebecca M.
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My senior individualized project is an applied case study of the impending merger of Comcast and NBC Universal. My assessment of this merger focuses on the impact this vertically integrated structural change could have on the market, including distributors and content providers. My project consists of two sections. The first section describes the impending merger in detail, including statements from those who oppose it, and public interest groups' concerns regarding this merger and the effects on the video distribution markets. It also touches on net neutrality and how some government organizations are trying to use this merger as a means to push net neutrality into an enforceable law. The analytic section focuses on my assessment of the merger and why I believe it should be approved, pending certain legally binding rules and regulations. I will also go into detail regarding how the combination of Comcast and NBC Universal will affect consumers as the video distribution market continues to change and grow to include new distribution platforms. I propose a formalized retransmission arbitration process, which will prohibit content providers from forcing distributors to pay unfair prices as well as prohibit them from withholding content during the negotiation process. Formalizing this process will ensure that consumers are not affected by these negotiations by having content access denied to them. Internet prioritization and net neutrality are discussed in the analytic section as well, describing the roles both play in the NBCU/Comcast merger. My position is that net neutrality is unnecessary at this point in time. Internet prioritization will be a more effective means of regulating the Internet by allowing service providers to slow down services that clog their networks, including file sharing sites used mostly used to share pirated content. However, the FTC and the FCC need to collaborate in order to create specific guidelines declaring what service providers cannot do, such as slowing down content for no legitimate reason. With Internet prioritization, consumers and providers alike will benefit from the technological advancements that will arise, providing better content and quality.