Discovery Channel Disses Comcast Merger

New York Post: Merged company could "collect an NSA-like treasure trove of viewer data."

More opposition to the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, leading off the headlines:

Discovery Channel Says No to Comcast Merger: In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission last Thursday, Discovery Communications, which owns Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and TLC, wrote that the merger could create monopoly-like conditions in the TV space by giving the combined company unprecedented control over advertising, sports programming, broadband speeds, and what TV shows make it into American homes, at what price. The merger, which would tie the biggest and second-biggest cable companies in the country, “could result in lower quality, less diverse programming, and fewer independent voices among programmers,” the statement said. Discovery is backed by Jon Malone, the billionaire former head of Liberty Media and Comcast CEO Brian Robert’s one-time mentor. (Time)

TWC customer data could give Comcast an unfair advantage: Comcast’s $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable will allow the combined company to collect an NSA-like treasure trove of viewer data — giving it an unfair advantage over programmers, Discovery Communications said on Friday. After the merger, Comcast will have unprecedented access to what people watch on TV and what they’re viewing online, say critics. The theory of the critics, including Discovery, is that Comcast could marry that data to gain unrivalled knowledge about households and their interests. The FCC isn’t expected to rule on the public interest aspect of the get-together until 2015. The Department of Justice is holding a separate review of the competition aspect of the deal. (New York Post)

Comcast Is Injecting Ads Right Into Web Pages At Its Public Hotspots: Comcast, your friendly, neighborhood internet service provider, has started sneaking in promotional ads to devices connected to one of its 3.5 million WiFi hotspots around the U.S. How does it do it? By injecting Javascript directly into the Web pages you’re browsing. The purpose of these ads, ostensibly, is to “alert customers that they’re connected to Comcast’s Xfinity service” according to a Comcast spokesperson who spoke to Ars Technica. Presumably because we can’t figure out which WiFi network we’re connected to unless there’s a honking ad on the screen. “We think it’s a courtesy, and it helps address some concerns that people might not be absolutely sure they’re on a hotspot from Comcast,” he says. The ads appear every seven minutes and last for a few seconds, just enough to be sufficiently annoying, before trailing away. (Gizmodo)

Univision, an early Comcast critic, signs long-term sports deal: Univision, an early critic of Comcast’s bid for Time Warner Cable, on Tuesday agreed to a long-term deal to bring the Hispanic media firm’s sports network to Comcast cable subscribers. Univision Deportes Network, which has exclusive rights to air Mexico’s Liga MX soccer matches, will be offered starting next month to subscribers of Comcast’s premium Digital Preferred package or its Latino services. UDN also airs international soccer matches, Formula 1 races and NFL, MLB and NBA games for Spanish-speaking audiences. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. (Washington Post)

Comcast, TWC are paying ‘nearly a dozen’ former FCC officials to push the FCC to approve the merger: To understand just how much clout Comcast has with the government, consider a new report from Bloomberg BNA that shows Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Charter are now employing “nearly a dozen” former FCC officials whose job is now to help pressure their former employer into approving the proposed $45 billion merger between the two companies. Included among the list of former officials are “the former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, a former policy director to FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and an FCC senior counsel who led the agency’s 2011 approval of the Comcast-NBC Universal deal,” Bloomberg BNA reports. (BGR)

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