2010 could be the biggest disaster in the making for consumers and media

The time frame of this could shift to 2011 depending on how long it takes for all the details to be worked out but be assured that when the Comcast purchase of NBC goes ahead the consumer is is going to get the short end of the stick – a very short stick.

Now to be honest when I first heard of the plan for Comcast to buy NBC my initial reaction was that it was an exceedingly stupid idea but that was pretty well the end of it. Then I was reading a post by Chez at Dues Ex Malcontent that pointed to a post by Josh Silvers at Huffington Post that took a look at this pending deal and didn’t like what he saw.

While he makes four major points in his argument as to why this isn’t a good idea, it is the middle two that should give anyone pause

  • The Comcast-NBC behemoth would control several distribution platforms — a major television network, the largest cable company and the largest Internet service provider. The merged company will have strong incentives and the market power to discriminate in granting access to its wealth of programming. It will have the incentive and market power to enforce anticompetitive “bundling” and price-gouge other cable companies, especially smaller cable companies.
  • As the largest cable company and Internet service provider, Comcast will have the motive to move NBC’s video content behind a pay wall that will mean higher costs for consumers, and it would stunt the growth of the Internet as an alternative medium for video service. Placing video content behind a pay wall that is only available to Comcast cable customers is a classic example of “anticompetitive bundling.” That is, consumers who want Internet access to NBC programming will be forced to buy the bundle of cable and Internet.

The idea that one company would have that much control over the complete chain of entertainment – from creation to distribution to access is worrisome in my opinion.

There are those that will argue though that old media companies like NBC are a dying breed and that by Comcast buying them all that is happening is the extending of the inevitable in which case Comcast would come to regret the move. One good friend suggests that the change that is coming to the whole entertainment business within the next five to ten years will basically nullify any dangers that this kind of deal might bring to the consumer.

My point and I still think this is that regardless of whether the media industry changes radically in that time frame it doesn’t change the fact that there is a period of time where a company with the kind of control that Comcast will have could have an extremely negative impact on the consumer and possibly technology.

However there is always the chance of an upside to this as my friend Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins pointed out to me when we chatted about this

Actually, it could be a good thing.

I’d hafta look at all the P&L sheets, but if NBC really tanks big time soon, and Comcast is highly vested in it, it could lead the the death of the company.

or a severe devaluation similar to the AOL Time Warner thing.

Gotta love the optimist I suppose but I am still left with a really bad feeling that nothing good is going to come out of this deal.

What do you think? Does this deal seem like an exceedingly bad idea to you and why aren’t more people talking about it and the potential fallout from it?