Crappy Olympics Coverage Prompts Maria Cantwell to Question NBC/Comcast Merger

Would Dr. Evil block the Lost finale just to help out NBC?
Sen. Maria Cantwell gets around in Washington these days. In addition to pushing legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reform banking, Cantwell thinks we shouldn't be forced to watch crappy Olympics coverage like the kind foisted on us by NBC last month.

For that reason, and to prevent unspecified "mischief," Cantwell told FCC Chair Julius Genachowski at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing yesterday that she can't support a proposed merger between Comcast and NBC.

Last December, Comcast announced plans to buy a controlling stake in NBC from General Electric for $6.5 billion. Beyond the usual concern that media consolidation will lead to more information control, Ben Scott of the anti-big-media public interest group Free Press, told the Washington Post that it will give Comcast incentive to push NBC content to its customers and limit access that NBC doesn't want you to have.

Those fears aren't unfounded, Cantwell told Genachowski. "Right now, Seattle is very upset about what happened with the Olympics."

NBC had most major events on a tape-delay, hoping to show them in prime time. So of course everyone went online, where the Canadian broadcaster CTV was streaming live videos.

But it didn't work. According to PC World, the major broadcasters had agreed to limit their streaming by geography. Cantwell clearly suspects that the Comcast/NBC merger would allow more of this sort of collusion.

Cantwell is pissed that we Seattleites had to watch the short track finals, already knowing that Apolo Ohno would be disqualified. And as if that wasn't bad enough, we were forced to suffer the constant interruption of ever-more-grating "How To Train Your Dragon" promos. Now that's a reason to oppose a merger.

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