Kohl critical of NBC online Olympic coverage

Feb 27, 2010 By WILL LESTER , Associated Press Writer
Comcast Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian Roberts, left, delivers his opening remarks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010, as NBC Universal President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Zucker listens at right, during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on competition in the media and entertainment distribution market. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(AP) -- A Democratic senator criticized NBC on Friday for its handling of online access to the Vancouver Olympics, calling it unfair and restrictive.

Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel, wrote NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker to complain about an NBC policy that he said appears to restrict some online access to people who subscribe to a pay or have a provider that is partnered with NBC. Kohl said the policy unfairly prevents others from seeing Olympic events.

NBC responded that it is broadcasting nearly 12 hours a day of programming that anyone with a TV can see, even if they don't have cable. The network also is showing highlights and medal-winning performances online for free, although other events such as full-length hockey games can't be seen free online.

Kohl said he doesn't understand why NBC doesn't offer viewers the opportunity to pay directly for online access to all Olympic coverage.

"I fear that that this practice of locking up certain content only for pay-TV subscribers may be a preview of what is to come with respect to TV programming shown on the Internet, particularly in the context of the proposed /NBC Universal merger," said Kohl.

The criticism of NBC comes after congressional Democrats challenged executives from Comcast and NBC Universal at hearings earlier this month to show that the cable TV operator's plan to take control of the entertainment company won't hurt consumers. Lawmakers expressed concerns that the merger could lead to higher cable TV rates and fewer video programming choices.

In his letter, Kohl asked if, after the merger is completed, viewers will be required to have a pay TV subscription to view NBC . NBC did not answer that question in its statement.

Kohl wrote: "It is our view that video over the Internet has the potential to become a significant competitive alternative to traditional pay TV subscriptions and it appears policies such as the one described in this letter may have the effect of limiting the prospects of such competition."

As content becomes more readily available through the Internet and multiple cable channels, those who distribute that content are concerned people will migrate to free online sites.

NBC Universal said in its response to Kohl that it is broadcasting 190 hours of the Olympics to everyone while also making Olympic coverage available on cable and online.

NBCOlympics.com shows video highlights - including nearly all individual medal-winning performances - that can be viewed for free because they are supported by advertising. The site also offers longer programs that are available only to people with subscription packages from cable, satellite or telephone companies, NBC said.

Explore further: Making smartphone browsing 20% faster while reducing power consumption by 40%

4.5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Comcast CEO says law protects rivals in NBC deal

Jan 27, 2010

(AP) -- Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts says existing law would prevent the cable TV operator from denying satellite TV companies and other rivals access to NBC Universal programming on reasonable terms.

House Democrats challenge Comcast, NBC on deal

Feb 04, 2010

(AP) -- House Democrats are challenging executives from Comcast and NBC Universal to show that the cable TV operator's plan to take control of the NBC media empire won't hurt consumers and competitors.

Comcast exploring stake in NBC

Oct 01, 2009

(AP) -- Comcast Corp. is in negotiations to buy 20 percent to 50 percent of NBC Universal, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

Comcast, NBC say deal would not hurt competition

Jan 28, 2010

(AP) -- Comcast Corp. and NBC Universal said the cable TV operator's plan to take control of the NBC media empire shouldn't raise significant antitrust concerns because the companies operate in separate and highly competitive ...

Comcast looks to future in bid for NBC Universal

Oct 02, 2009

(AP) -- Years ago, Comcast Corp. CEO Brian Roberts was asked at a conference what kept him awake at night. His answer: A new technology that would severely hurt the cable TV business.

Recommended for you

Microsoft beefs up security protection in Windows 10

5 hours ago

What Microsoft users in business care deeply about—-a system architecture that supports efforts to get their work done efficiently; a work-centric menu to quickly access projects rather than weather readings ...

US official: Auto safety agency under review

18 hours ago

Transportation officials are reviewing the "safety culture" of the U.S. agency that oversees auto recalls, a senior Obama administration official said Friday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been criticized ...

Out-of-patience investors sell off Amazon

18 hours ago

Amazon has long acted like an ideal customer on its own website: a freewheeling big spender with no worries about balancing a checkbook. Investors confident in founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' invest-and-expand ...

Ebola.com domain sold for big payout

18 hours ago

The owners of the website Ebola.com have scored a big payday with the outbreak of the epidemic, selling the domain for more than $200,000 in cash and stock.

Hacker gets prison for cyberattack stealing $9.4M

22 hours ago

An Estonian man who pleaded guilty to orchestrating a 2008 cyberattack on a credit card processing company that enabled hackers to steal $9.4 million has been sentenced to 11 years in prison by a federal judge in Atlanta.

Magic Leap moves beyond older lines of VR

23 hours ago

Two messages from Magic Leap: Most of us know that a world with dragons and unicorns, elves and fairies is just a better world. The other message: Technology can be mindboggingly awesome. When the two ...

User comments : 0