Comcast/NBC deal could add $2.4 billion to cable bills

Consumer Reports News: November 10, 2010 03:30 PM

A study released Monday tallied up how much Comcast's bid to buy NBC Universal would cost Americans, and came up with $2.4 billion over nine years. The report was put out by the American Cable Association, an industry group representing small and medium-size cable providers.

They might have an axe to grind, but the study was authored by William Rogerson, a former chief economist at the FCC and now professor at Northwestern University, who calls his estimate "a relatively conservative figure". Comcast, however, calls it a "flawed economic analysis."

The study echoes concerns consumer groups have raised about the negative effects on competition the takeover might bring, since the proposal was announced last December. Other than a potentially higher bill, there's the chance that Comcast could yank Sunday Night Football from free broadcast on NBC—possibly bypassing basic cable—and charge for it as part of a package. And according to the Wall Street Journal, one of the holdups that Justice Department regulators have had in deciding whether to approve the $30 billion deal, is that it could prevent the growing Internet television industry from becoming a true competitor to cable.

If you aren't crazy about your cable bill going up, take a look at this petition that lets the FCC know how you feel. It's sponsored by Hear Us Now, a site run by Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.

—Chris Fichera

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