Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Feds' Hairy Eyeball on Digital Not Just for Silicon Valley: Comcast/NBC Deal Continues to Undergo Stop-Start Vetting

It seems like every day, a different Silicon Valley company is in the crosshairs of one of the alphabet soup of federal government regulators over a range of concerns.

Whether it is privacy issues at Facebook, search market share at Google (GOOG), iPhone hijinks at Apple (AAPL) or a hacking breach at Twitter, digital firms are ever more closely watched by agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.

But one of the more important digital inquiries these days is the hairy-eyeball once-over Comcast (CMCSA) is getting in the vetting of its deal to acquire NBC Universal.

The FCC, about a third of the way to its 180-day deadline, stopped the clock yesterday over incomplete answers to a request for information.

One of the many issues of concern is how Comcast is going to put content online when it owns a company that makes a lot of it.

The so-called “clock” has been stopped once already, over online distribution issues, according to a report yesterday in Broadcasting & Cable noting that “the commission also gave commenters a chance to weigh the impact, if any, of the April 6 BitTorrent decision that called into question the FCC’s ability to regulate broadband.”

While it’s only one of the areas of inquiry, it is perhaps the most important for Silicon Valley companies, which are also moving aggressively into the space, especially in the wake of the recent Google legal victory over Viacom (VIA) in the long-running YouTube copyright-infringement case.

While Comcast noted that the FCC delay is simply a technical filing issue, and most observers expect the deal to eventually be approved, it’s clear that the company is going to have to answer mounting questions about how it plans to conduct itself online.

We’ll soon be posting the full interview BoomTown recently did with Comcast COO Steve Burke at the eighth D: All Things Digital conference earlier this month.

Until then, here’s a video of Burke at D8 talking about the upcoming competition with Silicon Valley companies:

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What’s happening is that we might, in fact, be at a time in our history where we’re being domesticated by these great big societal things, such as Facebook and the Internet. We’re being domesticated by them, because fewer and fewer and fewer of us have to be innovators to get by. And so, in the cold calculus of evolution by natural selection, at no greater time in history than ever before, copiers are probably doing better than innovators. Because innovation is extraordinarily hard.

— Mark Pagel, fellow of the Royal Society and professor of evolutionary biology, in conversation with Edge.org