Big Brother keeps getting bigger

Sure, there will be economies of scale with the pending takeover of NBC by Comcast. And, we really, really mean it, we’ll make sure Comcast plays nice with non-NBC content providers, right?

Jay Leno can tweak his bosses’ bosses with jokes about your Comcast cable guys.

Anyone else think this hits the spot?

But is anyone else uncomfortable giving that much power to one company? Comcast not only controls the vast NBC network, it will now distribute it through its vast Comcast cable network AND (lest we forget) its vast Internet network, which carried over the same cable lines. According to Wikipedia, Comcast provides cable to almost 23 million households and nearly 17 million Internet customers.

The FCC has already approved the move, which leaves 49 percent of ownership with General Electric, and Justice Department is expected later today. The lone dissenting voter on the FCC agrees with me. It’s too much power for one company.

Says NPR: “Among other things, the government is requiring Comcast to make NBC programming available to rival cable companies, satellite operators and new Internet video services that could pose a threat to Comcast’s core cable business.”

And, presumably Comcast won’t lock out TBS’ Conan O’Brien, even after the rancorous divorce between O’Brien and NBC last summer.

I don’t doubt that the FCC fully intends to make those terms happen. But lest we forget, regimes change. Administrations bring different ideas about regulating industries. And there’s still the tussle over decides who gets how much bandwidth online (net neutrality). Who’s to say a post-Obama FCC will give a hoot how Comcast exercises its control over all those millions of cable/Internet/TV customers? (Also, many homes bundle telephone service with cable and Internet).

We’re reached an age in which Internet access no longer is mere entertainment. Many people work out of their homes and depend on Internet service to function. More and more, medical information is becoming dependent on the Internet. It’s not just e-mail and Facebook (although that certainly is a factor). And then there’s the wireless networks, which raise a whole other set of issues.


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