Posts Tagged ‘FCC’


FCC approves $30 Billion NBC – Comcast deal…with many strings attached

Friday, January 21st, 2011
Image Source: IWatchStuff.com

Image Source: IWatchStuff.com

The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department approved a pending $30 billion joint venture which allows Comcast to own 51 percent of NBC Universal. The approval comes 13 months after the two sides announced their plan to merge one of the nation’s largest cable and internet operators with a broadcaster whose assets include NBC and Telemundo, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and Universal Pictures. Comcast controls 24 percent of the nation’s cable subscribers and NBC owns 12 percent of what is viewed on television. A match made in heaven? Not so fast… Over the last year this deal was met with heavy opposition from consumer advocate groups who argued consumers would have less influence over the newly formed company while online distributors worried about the possibility of having to pay a premium for NBC’s content, which would be controlled by one of their largest competitors in the distribution space. (Source: LA Times Blog, Entertainment News Buzz, January 2011.)

On paper this looks like an unstoppable combination in the making, and could potentially open the door for similar deals between content providers and cable and online providers. Although some were successful and some flopped, this is not the first time we’ve seen this type of marriage before – CBS/Viacom, AOL/Time Warner, Time Warner/Turner. With Comcast controlling NBC’s network and cable shows as well as their movies, it would seem their 15 million subscription base would be the perfect captive audience to view their content with competing cable and online providers forced to pay a kings ransom for the rights to their shows and movies. The FCC, however, put conditions on the deal to prevent any funny business with the hopes of maintaining as much “net neutrality” as possible.

One of the conditions requires Comcast to make its content available to all rival cable and satellite distributors as well as online distributors, and has to offer it’s content for the same price to everyone. They are also required to sell their internet service as a standalone service – this is significant since online distributors (Netflix) gives you the ability to access content without a cable subscription but requires internet service. The FCC is also asking Comcast to relinquish its day-to-day control of their online site HULU, allowing them to maintain an ownership stake but stripping them of any voting rights or the ability to suddenly make content unavailable from the site. (Source: Reuters, January, 18, 2011.)

So before everybody bows down to this newly formed Media behemoth, let’s remember… a lot has changed over the last 13 months since their initial announcement, and the conditions put on the new merger by the FCC (if enforced) will help neutralize any abuses of power. The consumer now has more options with the rise of online providers (Netflix, Google, and Apple TV) and will ultimately choose their services based on the quality of the entertainment, not the amount of channels offered or where the channel falls on the dial.

The pressure now falls squarely on the shoulders of NBC Universal. Without quality content from NBC, Comcast will quickly begin to wonder why they paid all of that money and went through all of the trouble of diversifying their business. The competition is sure to be fierce between cable and online providers; content providers will continue to fight for better licensing agreements for their content and in the end consumers will also have to ask themselves… is it all worth it?

The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace: Engaging Individuals One Poll at a Time

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

by Lauren Shapiro*

The White House recently announced that they are taking steps to create a manner in which online identities could be protected from hackers through the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC). This new initiative would provide individuals with online identification cards, ala drivers’ licenses or social security cards. This identity could then, hypothetically, allow for safe online banking and shopping. Although this program is quite a breakthrough and a necessity for the already burgeoning world of online transactions, it is not the first to discuss the issue of privacy in cyberspace.

White House

Flickr Image: ~MVI~ (Shubert Ciencia)

At the beginning of this year the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the FCC came to a head over the privacy concerns. And more recently the Federal Trade Commission considers implementing a do not track mechanism that would allow consumers to more easily manage targeted marketing.

What may be more interesting and certainly sets the NSTIC initiative apart is the communication strategy used by the White House.

The announcement of this program was made via a blog post by Howard A. Schmidt, cyber-security coordinator. In it, Schmidt describes the vastness of cyberspace, the relatively humongous role it plays in everyday life and the need for a greater emphasis on security within the online environment. The goal of the NSTIC is to, “reduce cyber-security vulnerabilities and improve online privacy protections through the use of trusted digital identities.” What better way to convey a message about cyberspace than in cyberspace!

The other PR savvy tactic: Mr. Schmidt asked for the public’s opinion on how best to mold this new proposal. By visiting http://www.nstic.ideascale.com/ you could submit ideas or opinions while browsing ideas already submitted and agree/disagree with them.

By empowering the nation to become an active voice in the creation of the NSTIC, Howard Schmidt has taken full advantage of one of the most beneficial aspects cyberspace has to offer – the ability to create an open forum of discussion and polling. Through this method, the White House will, theoretically, be able to create a system for the public by the public.

Do you use online polling or discussions during the creation of your PR strategies? Will we one day vote for the President of the United States via online polling? How does online privacy affect your professional communications objectives and personal activities? Please share your thoughts with the me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas. 

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*Bio: Soon after graduating from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, in 2006 with a B.A. in communication and a B.S. in business/marketing, I joined the BurrellesLuce client services team. In 2008, I completed my master’s degree in corporate and organizational communications and now work as the supervisor of BurrellesLuce Express client services. I am passionate about researching and understanding the role of email in shaping relationships from a client relation/service standpoint as well as how miscommunication occurs within email, which was the topic of my thesis. Through my posts on Fresh Ideas, I hope to educate and stimulate thoughtful discussions about corporate communications and client relations, further my own knowledge on this subject area, as well as continue to hone my skills as a communicator. Twitter: @_LaurenShapiro_ LinkedIn: laurenrshapiro Facebook: BurrellesLuce