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Originally published Sunday, November 29, 2009 at 4:00 PM

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The Democracy Papers

Regulators should block Comcast/NBC marriage

A thorough vetting of Comcast's proposal to buy NBC Universal would reveal it as an arrangement made for mischief. Regulators must do their homework and reject the deal.

IF there ever was a corporate marriage federal regulators should block it is Comcast Corp.'s proposition to buy NBC Universal.

The new company would negatively impact consumers because it places one of the world's biggest content providers under the nation's leading Internet and cable provider. It's an arrangement made for mischief.

NBC Universal, which is owned by General Electric Co., is the home of a movie studio, a plethora of cable programming and news outlets. Comcast covets this content as a way to compete against the likes of Disney, which owns ABC, ESPN and a movie studio.

This conglomeration of content and its delivery system is ripe for high prices being foisted on viewers and smaller cable companies that could be charged a lot more to have their content carried over Comcast's vast system.

President Obama's appointees at the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice seem to have some inkling to oppose megadeals such as this. It will be a telling test.

The deal, which is not complete, could take about a year to wind its way through Washington, D.C. It would be unfortunate if the Obama administration does not give it a thorough vetting, with a likely outcome being the deal's rejection.

Regulators at the FTC and FCC should be wary of this deal. Consumer habits are changing and fragmenting. The time is not appropriate to give another huge corporation this much power in a time of transition.

Better for regulators to block the deal and design media rules that reflect the needs of modern consumers and foster media diversity.

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