FCC Approves Comcast-NBC Universal Merger, Critics Warn Of 'Dire' Consequences

Not only does LittleBigPlanet 2 come out today, but the FCC approved the merger between Comcast and NBC Universal. Will the two companies use their combined powers for good and not evil? A healthy skepticism may be in order.

The merger cleared the FCC with a 4-1 a few moments ago. The merger was initially announced in late 2009, but its approval was held up because the FCC wanted to ensure that the merger wouldn’t wreak havoc with things like consumer choice when it comes to content consumption.

The Free Press, the watchdog group that criticized the FCC for passing only a “lite” form of Net Neutrality, has similar misgivings with regard to the merger.

Today’s decision by the FCC represents a failure of the agency to live up to its own public interest mandate, as well as Barack Obama’s promise to promote media diversity and prevent excessive media concentration. This deal will give Comcast unprecedented control over both media content and the physical network that delivers it. The FCC has opened Pandora’s Box, and we can soon expect a whole new swarm of mega-mergers that will have dire consequences for media and the Internet.

Such power concentrated in the hands of a single company is deeply troubling. Access to information from a variety of independent sources is essential to an informed citizenry and a functioning democracy. While the FCC has adopted conditions, they are insufficient short-term or voluntary fixes that will fail to prevent permanent harm to competition, consumer choice and the future of the Internet. This deal will drive up cable and Internet costs for subscribers, while further eliminating diverse, independent media content that is already woefully lacking in the commercial media….

Today, Comcast has won the jackpot, and once again, it is the American people who will end up paying out.

Harsh words, to be sure.

Comcast is expected to host a press conference at 4pm ET to “to discuss the Federal Communications Commission’s and Department of Justice’s clearance of the Company’s joint venture with General Electric related to NBC Universal.” We’ll see if the company will address any of these concerns.