Accusing Comcast of abusing the agreement it made with the FCC and the Department of Justice when it purchased NBC-Universal, Public Knowledge filed a 28-page complaint this week with the FCC. It charges that the cable operator is excluding its Stream TV service from its own data cap.
“When Comcast bought NBC-Universal, both the FCC and Department of Justice recognized that Comcast could take steps to unfairly disadvantage online video. Among other things, both agencies prohibited Comcast from excluding its own services from data caps or metering, and required it to count traffic from competing online video services the same as its own,” John Bergmayer, senior staff attorney at Public Knowledge, says. “Comcast’s behavior violates the plain terms of its merger commitments.”
Bergmayer charges that Comcast could potentially cause fewer online video choices, while “increasing its dominance as a video gatekeeper.”
“If its behavior persists, prices will go up, the number of choices will go down, creators will have a harder time reaching an audience, and viewers will have a harder time accessing diverse and independent programming,” he concludes.
Comcast unveiled beta testing of the streaming TV service last July, and hasn’t been elusive about openly stating that since its Stream service does not go over the Internet, it can’t be disobeying rules that only apply to Internet content.
In its FAQ section about Stream, one of the questions Comcast addresses is “Will Stream TV use data from my XFINITY Internet monthly data usage allowance?”
The answer: “No, Stream TV is an in-home cable service delivered over Comcast’s cable system, not over the Internet. Therefore, Stream TV data usage will not be counted towards your XFINITY Internet monthly data usage.”
And in a widely referenced recent statement from Comcast, the company reiterates: “Customers do not access Stream TV through their broadband service. Period. Public Knowledge saying so over and over does not make it so.”
Filed Under: Industry regulations