Boucher urges approval of Comcast-NBC merger

A key House Democrat who has been [leading a probe of the proposed merger of Comcast and NBC Universal]( is calling on federal regulatory authorities to approve the $30 billion deal, but attach significant conditions to preserve broad access to content such as online video.

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Internet subcommittee, sent letters to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski and Christine Varney, the head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, recommending they approve the merger by Dec. 1.

Boucher noted that the combined company would be biggest media firm in the nation, building on Comcast’s established position as the No. 1 provider of video and broadband Internet. That pairing of content and distribution has [drawn pointed criticism from a host of advocacy groups](/bus-news/article.php/3851026/Consumer+Groups+Cry+Foul+on+Comcasts+NBC+Play.htm) that generally oppose media consolidation and the policy agenda of big cable and telecom companies.

Boucher acknowledged the heft of the combined company raises some concerns, but he urged the regulators to include certain conditions to their approval of the merger, including the stipulation that Comcast agree not to move video content that is currently available for free on behind a subscription-verification wall, such as TV Everywhere.

Similarly, Boucher proposed a condition that would prevent the combined company from locking up exclusive licensing or distribution deals for Web video with other content providers, unless the FCC determined that they serve the public interest. Such a rule would be similar to the prohibition currently in place restricting exclusive deals between cable and satellite-TV providers.

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