Eyeing Comcast-NBCU Deal, IFTA Calls for Inquiry on Media Consolidation

Worries that the volume of independent produced programming available to the public “has dropped precipitously”

Last Updated: August 18, 2010 @ 5:24 PM

The Independent Film & Television Alliance may be happy enough with the concessions Comcast and NBC Universal offered to support the companies' deal to combine without delay, but it is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to launch a separate formal inquiry into growing media consolidation.

In comments filed Monday, IFTA said that since the mid-1990s — when ownership of major studios, broadcast networks and cable companies “have become almost fully intertwined” — the volume of independent produced programming available to the public “has dropped precipitously.”

“We continue to advocate that the commission launch a separate proceeding to examine the important issues of source diversity and access to distribution platforms and seek balanced, industry-wide solutions to expand independent programming on U.S. channels,” said the filing submitted by Jean M. Prewitt, the alliance’s president and CEO.

It urged the FCC to launch a proceed “to examine the important issues of source diversity and access to distributions platforms and seek balanced, industry-wide solutions to expand independent programming on U.S. channels.”

IFTA says the need for the inquiry should not delay the Commission’s review of the merger.

On July 12, IFTA announced an agreement with Comcast and NBCU that assures requirement independent producers get a chance to formally present their programs to execs of Comcast-NBCU for at least four years after the deal closes.

Each year, NBCU and Comcast would schedule a “development meeting” for independent producers, in which NBCU officials would lay out their needs for scripted and reality programming needs.

NBCU then would set up formal pitch meetings where creative executives from all NBCU entertainment networks would hear proposals from the independent producers recommended by the IFTA.

Within six months of the development meetings, NBC’s cable group has agreed to hear at least 15 pitches and its broadcast group at least 20 pitches.

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