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Comcast-NBCU Would Pose Regulatory Challenges

The Washington Post

NBCU Building Sign One is a giant of the entertainment world — a tangle of television networks, a film studio and a stable of hit shows. The other is a cable colossus, the nation’s largest provider of cable TV and Internet access. Together, the possibilities are endless.

And that prospect has caught regulators’ attention.

With Philadelphia-based cable operator Comcast apparently hoping to acquire NBC Universal from General Electric, federal regulators are realizing that they may be thrust into a new era. A combination of the two would create the prospect of a single company controlling how customers access information–through cable and online — and what they watch there.

Comcast, for instance, could consider same-day releases of Universal movies for its cable customers. With control over more news and entertainment content, it would have greater flexibility to explore online business models, perhaps offering cable subscribers free online access to certain content, such as the show “30 Rock” or CNBC or USA Network programming. Comcast already is the nation’s second-largest provider of Internet access, and NBC owns a large stake in Hulu.com, where television shows can be accessed through any broadband connection.

Such are the makings of a complicated regulatory challenge. More…

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