NBC Universal CEO and president Jeff Zucker and Comcast CEO and chairman Brian Roberts are promising lawmakers that they will “sit down” with independent content producers if the company’s proposed $30 million merge gets approved.
“We know consumers want to get many shows on the net and on their computers and on mobile and everywhere else,” Roberts said during his testimony. “We’d be happy to sit down” with independent content producers and diverse networks.
These deals “involve lots of money, they are not simple,” he added. But “we’re driven because it’s such a competitive business. We need the best shows or people switch to” other services.
Jean Prewitt, president of the Independent Film & Television Alliance, said in her prepared testimony that while Comcast and NBC Universal will be saving costs with their merge, more independent producers might lose out, especially in the video-on-demand market. They could create “a walled and sparsely tended garden.”
“VOD is a vibrant marketplace that can pick up slack from lower DVD sales,” she said during the hearing today.
She explained that independent programmers who approach the company are typically asked to get their TV show, movie or network sold through a studio and then come back to get their programming on services like TV Everywhere and Hulu. Cable executives say “we only want programming with a worldwide audience,” according to Prewitt.
Although some independent programming might make it onto the system “like the salmon swimming downstream,” she wants a guarantee for more open negotiations.
Comcast’s Roberts responded during the hearing that the merged company will want to make as many deals as possible and seek out a “not-pirated model” to bring in more content and revenue.
She is requesting a diverse array of content: “a minimum number of slots across all the platforms,” acquisition budgets and a “fuel” for programming that can compete across network TV and prestigious cable channels.
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