Comcast Executives Press Federal Officials to Decide on NBC Deal, Move Past Network Neutrality

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Comcast executives are pressing the Federal Communications Commission to conclude the review of the company's proposed merger with NBC Universal. Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen met with FCC Chief of Staff Edward Lazarus on November 11 to say the companies' "applications are now ripe for consideration." That was one of at least four meetings between FCC staff and Comcast-NBC executives in the last week.

On Nov 15, Cohen, speaking at the Brookings Institute, said that when it comes to Internet regulation, self-governance should trump federal mandates. Cohen pointed to engineering-led groups such as the Internet Engineering Task Force and Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG) as alternative and ultimately more efficient options for regulating Internet content. BITAG's role would be advisory for federal agencies on the technological aspects of Internet policy issues. For support, Cohen called attention to News Corp's decision last month to temporarily block access of the online video website Hulu.com -- which it co-owns with other networks -- from Cablevision customers. News Corp was angry that Cablevision was balking at the fees it was demanding for carriage of its Fox broadcast and cable channels. "It happened on a Saturday afternoon," Cohen said. "It happened for three hours and as blogs lit up and customers started to complain, News Corp reversed its decision. If you were going to rely on government, it wouldn't have happened in three hours on a Saturday afternoon."

But Cohen was quick to say that he doesn't advocate that federal regulators be completely hands-off. "By no means am I suggesting a libertarian approach to Internet policy in America," he said. "All of us benefit from having a free and open Internet, and maintaining that is a legitimate government concern. The only question is 'how.'"


Comcast Executives Press Federal Officials to Decide on NBC Deal, Move Past Network Neutrality Comcast Executive: Let's Move Past Net Neutrality (National Journal) Comcast executive: self-regulation, not government mandates, for Internet (WashPost)