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Discovery, Comcast in tussle

MUMBAI: A fight has broken out in the US between cable major Comcast and infotainment broadcaster Discovery. The former has said that Discovery demanded business concessions for it to not oppose its bid for Time Warner Cable.

In a regulatory filing Comcast wrote, “Discovery, like many other programmers, is improperly using this proceeding to promote its own financial interests. In fact, Discovery demanded unwarranted business concessions from Comcast as a condition of Discovery’s non-opposition to the Transaction. Such extortionate demands are patently improper. As the self-proclaimed ‘#1 Pay-TV Programmer in the World,’ Discovery does not need additional regulatory help to succeed in the marketplace. Its claims are baseless and should be rejected.”

Replying to this Discovery said in a statement that it has a nearly 30-year history of being one of the most fair, rational and reasonable companies within the industry. “We are always talking to our distribution partners about realizing fair value for our content across all consumer platforms, and it is very unfortunate that Comcast is trying to divert attention away from the real issue. Comcast chooses to not talk about the substantial programme discounts they currently get, or what they would do post-merger to demand extreme discounts from cable programmers or block the launch of new networks and brands.”

Discovery added that it has 13 networks in the U.S. that strive to serve all ethnic and demographic groups with high quality, family friendly programming. It said that it stood by its concerns expressed to the US media watchdog the FCC that Comcast could use its enhanced leverage from the proposed merger to impose onerous terms that jeopardise the ability of independent programmers like Discovery to continue investing in a diverse portfolio of content and brands.

“Comcast’s silence on the details of key issues like program discounts, and instead, its continued strategy of intimidating voices that are not fully supportive of its position, is troubling.”