Seven year old rules governing how Comcast could treat streaming rivals are due to expire in a few days. The rules were imposed by the government as a condition for approval of Comcast’s 2011 purchase of NBCUniversal, required Comcast to license NBCU’s programming to streaming rivals among other things.
But expiration of the rules may not be as meaningful as once thought. Bloomberg on Thursday reported that the Department of Justice’s antitrust unit has written to Comcast warning that it will continue to monitor how the company handles programming and distribution. The DOJ asked Comcast to let it know about any changes it makes when the rules, contained in a consent decree, expire on Sept. 1.
The letter to Comcast, which comes weeks after the DOJ filed to appeal a judge’s decision to allow AT&T to buy Time Warner, seems to indicate that Makan Delrahim, head of the agency’s antitrust unit, will not take his department’s recent defeat lying down. It will be very interesting to see how Comcast responds to the letter.