Published on Monday, 12 July 2010 20:35
Tomorrow afternoon, and going well into the evening, will be the FCC's public hearing on the proposed Comcast/NBC Merger. It will take place from 1:00pm-8:00pm and will be held at the Northwestern University Law School's Thorne Auditorium, located at 375 E. Chicago Avenue in Chicago.
Numerous speakers, both pro & con for the $30 billion Comcast/NBC merger, will be attending, including FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, DISH Network's Jeffrey Blum, the Nielsen Company's Susan Whiting, Media Access Project's Tyrone Brown, Northwestern Law Professor James Speta, Cardozo Law School Professor Susan Crawford, NetCoalition's Markham C. Erickson, and Free Press CEO Josh Silver.
From 6:00pm-7:55pm, the public will be allowed to voice its concerns about this merger. (The sign-up sheet begins taking names at 5:00pm.) The Commission will take questions and comments from those signed up, as well as from participants on Twitter using the hashtag #fccNBC.
A full agenda for this event can be downloaded from the FCC at this link HERE
This will be the seventh public hearing held on this subject, but the first ever for Chicago. Chicago was chosen as a location for this public hearing because of its central location within the country, the large size of its market and because of Comcast's massive hold on the television signal delivery within that market. Comcast provides television services for 2.1 million subscribers and employs 7,500 workers in Chicagoland.
If the merger is allowed to happen, Comcast, Chicago's largest cable television provider, will also own WMAQ-TV/NBC5 and Telemundo Chicago. Comcast already owns 30 percent of Comcast SportsNet with broadcast rights to games for the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks.
Among those strongly opposed to the proposed merger is Free Press, described on their website
as "a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to reform the media," with offices in Florence, MA and Washington, DC. Free Press' President & CEO, Josh Silver will be speaking (probably loudly) at the event tomorrow. In advance of the FCC public hearing tomorrow, Silver & Free Press have placed ads in the Chicago Reader featuring a "Wanted" poster with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's face centered on it. In addition to being opposed to media merger and the possible damaging effects it could have on the public, Free Press is unhappy that Chairman Genachowski has been a no-show at all of these public hearings.
In addition to the "Wanted" poster inside of the Reader, Free Press has also been sending out email blasts and Facebook messages, urging those opposed to the deal to post up smaller versions of the wanted poster all over town and to show up at the event to voice their concerns.
Free Press has been a thorn in Comcast's side for some time, including a spreading word about Comcast's interference of Internet traffic in 2007. Thanks in part to Free Press' efforts, the FCC enforced fines against Comcast.
For those unable to attend the public hearing, the entire event will be streamed live over the Internet at http://reboot.fcc.gov/live
beginning at 1:00pm.