Project Concord claims that Comcast has failed to make NBC Universal content available at a reasonable price and is demanding binding arbitration.
Regulators, in approving Comcast's deal for control of NBC Universal in January 2011, were concerned that Comcast might have incentive to withhold NBC Universal programming to rival cable operators and over the Web, and therefore imposed several conditions to ensure that didn't happen.
They required Comcast to provide programming at the same rate as NBC's "peers" -- meaning pricing similar to what rivals would pay for ABC, CBS and Fox programming. They also required binding arbitration in disputes in certain instances.
Two weeks ago, Comcast, in its first annual report to the Federal Communications Commission about its compliance with the conditions, said it received one request for binding arbitration of a licensing dispute, but didn't identify where the request came from. Comcast said that despite the request, it remains in talks with the provider.
FCC documents subsequently made clear that Project Concord filed the arbitration request. The FCC documents also suggest a disagreement over exactly who gets to view the peer contracts that is holding up the arbitration.
Project Concord said Comcast is trying to alter the normal agency procedures in which the data on Project Concord's contracts with other carriers would go only to Comcast's outside counsel and outside consultants. Comcast also wants that data to be viewable by in-house counsel, Comcast executive management and employees negotiating the contract.
Project Concord suggested Comcast's request is unnecessarily delaying arbitration and called on the FCC to reject the request.
Project Concord officials did not return several requests for comments.
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