Roberts, Zucker Take Their $30B Case to Congress

To testify their Comcast-NBCU deal will “benefit consumers and encourage much needed investment”

Last Updated: February 18, 2010 @ 11:57 AM

Comcast Chairman-CEO Brian L. Roberts and NBC Universal President-CEO Jeff Zucker are taking their case to the House of Representatives this week.

They will actually meet on Thursday, but parts of their joint prepared testimony were leaked on Tuesday.

The crux of the arguments: their $30 billion deal “will benefit consumers and encourage much needed investment” while raising no regulatory or competitive

concern.”

The benefit, they say, will occur because the deal will put NBCU “under the control of a company that is focused exclusively on the communication and entertainment industry.”

Roberts and Zucker will meet with two House committees, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and an anti-trust panel of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The leaked testimony all came from the Energy and Commerce Committee hearing.

 

The hearings are slated to be webcast on C-Span 3.

In the prepared testimony, the two say the deal will enable “NBCU to become a more competitive and innovative player in the turbulent and ever changing media world.”

“The transaction will promote the innovative content and delivery that consumers want and demand,” they add. “Comcast’s commitment to sustain and invest in the NBC broadcast network will promote the quality of news, sports and local programming that have made their network great over the last 50 years.”

“We intend to use the combined assets to accelerate and improve the range of choices that American consumers enjoy for entertainment, information and communications.”

Also testifying before the committee will be some potential competitors and an association of NBC affiliates.

 

Calling the combination “an unprecedented deal,” Colleen Abdoulah, president and CEO of Comcast competitor WOW! and a board member of the American Cable Association, warned in her preparted testimony that it would “substantially increase the market power of Comcast threatening consumers and competition.”

Also slated to testify is Michael J. Fiorile, chair of the NBC Television Affiliates Board and representatives of consumer groups, who question the deal.

Fiorile, heads Dispatch Printing Co, which owns the NBC Indianapolis affiliate WTHR.

He told the congressmen that NBC affiliates are concerned that Comcast will try to migrate “the most compelling” NBC programming to cable and undercut its traditional relationship with affiliates to run programs on the web or on video on demand platforms.