If you don’t fall under the long arm of Comcast, a locale known euphemistically as “Comcast Country,” you’re generally considered quite fortunate by those who do. The cable, telephone, and internet provider is renowned amongst its patrons for fritzy technology and antithetical 'customer service.' So news that the corporation is expanding its global presence through the acquisition of a majority stake in NBC/Universal is especially troubling to us.
The merger, which sees a cool $37 and a half billion exchanging hands, was unveiled Thursday, and must now pass through what could be as long as a nine month approval process, during which a governmental regulatory body will determine whether or not it presents the cable operator with “undue advantages” over its competitors. Poor FiOS, somebody oughta stick up for you.
Meanwhile, ground level Comcast subscribers will likely notice little change if and when the merger goes through, though company chairman CEO Brian Roberts has lofty long-term goals for the acquisition. The purchase is his vindictive response to the troubling trend (troubling for Comcast) towards free online streaming services like Hulu, which all but negate the need for subscription based home cable. Via the NBC/Universal merger, Comcast will gain greater control over how, where, when, and for what price the public consumes their entertainment, including the popular NBC series “30 Rock” and “The Office.” It’s probably a little less ‘Evil Empire’ than it sounds, and the merger could offer potential benefits such as Universal Studios’ films arriving earlier on Comcast On Demand, but considering the company’s attempted hostile takeover of Disney a few years back, I'm inclined to believe these are the sort of cutthroat businessmen I’m already unhappy to be paying on a monthly basis.
My other fear is that Comcast will continue to annex media outlets, though Roberts says the NBC acquisition renders his company “Strategically complete.” Nevertheless, the last thing I want is the corporation that can’t keep my laptop connected to the internet awarding itself greater responsibility, and piling more and more media onto its plate. They’re overeating as it is.
To read about the merger in excruciating technical detail, I recommend THIS article at Variety.