Interactive TV News Round-Up (II): Comcast-NBC Universal, Virgin Media, YOU On Demand

--FCC Sets Online Video Conditions for Comcast-NBCU Merger
--Virgin Media Forms In-House Digital Advertising Sales Operation
--YOU On Demand Hires Two Senior Executives

Here is the second of two round-ups of interactive TV-related news stories that we didn't have room for in this issue.

  • The FCC has published a list of conditions for the Comcast-NBC Universal merger that it says are designed to ensure the merger does not negatively impact the broadband video market. Among other things, it is requiring that the merged entity "does not exercise corporate control" over Hulu. "Recognizing the risks this transaction could present to the development of innovative online video distribution services, the Commission has adopted conditions designed to guarantee bona fide online distributors the ability to obtain Comcast-NBCU programming in appropriate circumstances," the FCC states in its press materials. "These conditions respond directly to the concerns voiced by participants in the proceeding--including consumer advocates, online video distributors (OVD's), and MVPD's--while respecting the legitimate business interests of the Applicants to protect the value of their content. Among other things, the Commission requires that Comcast and/or Comcast-NBCU: 1) Provides to all MVPD's, at fair market value and non-discriminatory prices, terms, and conditions, any affiliated content that Comcast makes available online to its own subscribers or to other MVPD subscribers. 2) Offers its video programming to legitimate OVD's on the same terms and conditions that would be available to an MVPD. 3) Makes comparable programming available on economically comparable prices, terms, and conditions to an OVD that has entered into an arrangement to distribute programming from one or more of Comcast-NBCU's peers. 4) Offers standalone broadband Internet access services at reasonable prices and of sufficient bandwidth so that customers can access online video services without the need to purchase a cable television subscription from Comcast. 5) Does not enter into agreements to unreasonably restrict online distribution of its own video programming or programming of other providers. 6) Does not disadvantage rival online video distribution through its broadband Internet access services and/or set-top boxes. 7) Does not exercise corporate control over or unreasonably withhold programming from Hulu."
  • UK cable operator, Virgin Media, has announced the formation of a 20-employee in-house advertising sales and operations arm, called Virgin Media Digital Sales. According to the company, VMDS will be responsible for advertising across its online, mobile and TV platforms, including the recently launched hybrid-TV service, Virgin Media TV Powered by TiVo. It is headed up by commercial director, Mark Brandon, who was previously director of platforms at ids; its sales director, Stuart Flint, and its operations director, Jenny Thomson, are also both former ids executives.
  • YOU On Demand (formerly China Broadband)--a company helmed by former wrestler and WWE EVP of global media, Shane McMahon, which says that it is seeking to become the first national provider of pay-per-view and VOD services in China--has appointed Lisa Richards as SVP of distribution and marketing and Jason Patton as SVP of technology and business development. Richards joins the company from WWE, where she managed distribution and marketing for the company's SVOD service, WWE 24/7, and its pay-per-view services. She also spent time at Starz Encore and at iN Demand. Patton, meanwhile, joins the company from iN Demand, where, according to YOU On Demand, he was "at the forefront of developing new digital technologies in the media space in the US and abroad." Prior to that, he worked at AT&T's Asia/Pacific group.


North America