How Will the Comcast/NBC Merger Affect You?
Many people have been watching the rumored merger of telecom giants NBC and Comcast for over a year now. After a long wait, the merger is becoming reality now that the FCC has given the final okay. This merger will have huge implications and effects throughout the telecom world, but many are wondering how it will affect the everyday lives of Americans.
An Increase in Prices?
Many people fear monopolies in telecommunications and other vital industries due to a possible increase in prices for services. In addition, Comcast already has multiple customer complaints related to the cost of their services.
However, Comcast is not the only cable provider in many areas, and it faces intense competition from satellite companies such as Dish Network. In addition, if prices are raised substantially, then customers may scale back on services to save money. The behemoth company that comes out of this merger will need to remain competitive in pricing, or at least as competitive as it has been in the past, in order to survive in an industry with many options.
In addition, sports channels may actually become cheaper. ESPN, which is owned by Disney, currently holds most of the power in sports networking. However, Comcast is now large enough to challenge the athletic giant and create a competition for customers.
How Will Programming Be Affected?
Another major concern of people watching this merger is whether programming variety will suffer. Comcast/NBC will now own 51% of NBS as well as a sizable amount of several other networks such as Telemundo, Bravo, and MSNBC. NBC is an especially popular network due to comedy shows such as 30 Rock, The Office and Saturday Night Live. It is natural to wonder whether NBC programming will be available through other cable providers, or alternately whether Comcast will promote the channels it owns to the detriment of others.
If you are worried about whether you will be able to catch your favorite programs on Dish Network or other competitors, you can relax. The FCC approved the Comcast and NBC merger with several conditions, including that other television providers would be able to carry the channels involved at a fair cost.
How Will This Affect the Internet?
Many high profile names claim that this merger could be the end of net neutrality, especially with Comcast owning a chunk of popular streaming website Hulu. Because internet access is now necessary for daily life, this is a real anxiety for many people.
However, Comcast/NBC actually will have little control over the vast world wide web, even if they partially control Hulu. Hulu may move to offering more of its content in their paid Hulu Plus, but this trend began years ago. Hulu is hardly the majority of the internet so this should have no implications for net neutrality outside of inconveniencing those who are hooked on one of the popular shows available there.
In addition, the FCC was clear that this merger could not result in unfair prices or practices. This is actually good news for the many people who purchase Comcast cable television merely to get its internet; Comcast has agreed to offer internet access as a stand alone service.
While it is concerning to see such a large portion of the telecommunication business huddled under a single umbrella, it actually will have little or no impact on people who use the internet or Comcast services. The FCC has agreed to allow the merger only if fair market prices are maintained. As a result, the merger will likely have significantly more benefits than disadvantages for Comcast customers as well as the general public.