NBC affiliates want the Federal Communications Commission to intercede if Comcast Corp. doesn't let them keep the programming they need. Such a demanding lot! Someone needs a bit of cold water thrown on them -- that, or another change of late-night hosts.
NBC stations want to make sure their prospective new majority owner, Comcast, will let them keep big-name sports franchises and events -- NFL, the Olympics Kentucky Derby, and other events -- instead of putting such programming on Comcast's cable outlets.
But really -- how can NBC affiliates ask the FCC to regulate what programming they can or can't get?
If Comcast wants to pay for crazy, screaming-laden cooking shows or new reality competition shows featuring up-and-coming brain surgeons, unfortunately that's what those NBC affiliates will get.
NBC affiliates also want to make sure they get fair retransmission fees. They're already under the gun -- especially when it comes to prime time and late night over the past few years. You can understand them wanting a break.
Unfortunately, the TV business is not for the faint of heart. Those 50% profit margins of a few years ago are long gone. The hope is those local TV executives socked some money away.
The bigger issue comes from the whole media consolidation thing. To hear Comcast executives talk, they believe in the broadcast network system. That, in theory, would mean wanting to spend money on programming -- to get the network and its affiliates back to a more competitive status.
Why else would Comcast buy into NBC Universal? Just to get control of all that content -- television shows, movies, and Internet content? I don't think so.
Some may fear Comcast is planning a scorched-earth TV philosophy -- eventually looking to sell the network and turning what's left into a pseudo-cable network. But that doesn't make sense.
If Comcast shifts all that local broadcast TV programming to create strong local cable TV stations, it would severely diminish the value of that programming. TV business dynamics still favor the bigger advertising revenue coming from traditional TV broadcast stations and a broadcast network -- at least in the near term.
One can't imagine Comcast messing around with this equation -- not with all those billions on the line and near-term-focused shareholders.
Sure, TV stations smell a possible rat. This is cable after all, their long-time nemesis, part of the reason for their decline. But asking FCC to adjudicate programming decisions doesn't seem possible -- or logical. Get me a bucket.