The ABC, CBS and Fox affiliates have agreed not to oppose Comcast’s $45.2 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable in exchange for commitments from the giant NBCU owner not to discriminate against broadcast stations owned by others — or to lobby against retransmission consent, according to a Dec. 23 affiliate filing at the FCC.
Under the deal, the TWC acquisition would include a series of conditions that would bar Comcast from discriminating in favor of NBCU-owned or operated stations over retransmission consent — and other issues — for 10 years after the TWC deal closes.
Among other things, the conditions require Comcast to negotiate retransmission consent deals in good faith, without any collaboration with NBCU, according to the affiliate filing.
Under yet another key provision in the deal, Comcast has agreed not to roil the waters by lobbying against retransmission consent.
Similar conditions were included in Comcast’s acquisition of NBCU in 2011, but those conditions are slated to expire in 2018.
A source close to the negotiations said the affiliates are continuing to urge the FCC to include yet another condition in the deal that would bar Comcast from negotiating retransmission consent deals jointly with multichannel video providers that Comcast doesn’t own. But Comcast has not agreed to accept that condition. So the affiliates have asked the FCC to decide whether to include the additional condition or not, the source said.
“The affiliates felt that if broadcasters can’t conduct joint retransmission consent negotiations with other stations, then cable shouldn’t be able to negotiate deals with other cable operators either,” a source close to the negotiations said.