The FCC and the Justice Department have given their approval to Comcast’s take-over of NBC Universal, which it is buying from GE. The nation’s largest cable company will now have control of a major Hollywood studio (and all that goes with that), providing it with unprecendent vertical integration.
The FCC tacked on a few conditions with its blessing, ranging from more programming in Spanish to adding 1,000 hours of local news. It will also have to give up management of Hulu.com, but may not pull its programming from the service. The Justice Department also included a few strings, including adherence to net-neutrality requirements and protections against unfair treatment of competitors, both content providers and subscription television services.
So now we’ll find out whether the deal of the century is going to produce a technological marvel that will advance the entire entertainment industry for this country, or a megalomaniacal monster that will rampage across the various distribution channels. My bet is that it will be somewhere right about in the middle.