Comcast accused of torpedoing Hulu sale to rivals with weapon of mass transactions

And why the US DoJ may not be best pleased

Comcast allegedly talked its fellow Hulu investors out of selling the TV streaming upstart to DirecTV or AT&T by insisting it could steer the web biz to financial triumph.

That's a serious accusation because Comcast had agreed with the FCC and US Department of Justice to keep its hands off the management of Hulu. In the end, Hulu's investors Disney and Fox decided against flogging the upstart to Comcast's cable rivals.

The claims stem from The Wall Street Journal: it reports that, during a conference in Idaho in 2013, Comcast assured Disney and Fox executives that it would position Hulu as a money-making rival to Netflix.

The bold bragging apparently torpedoed a planned sale of Hulu to Comcast's competitors DirecTV and AT&T. If this is true, it means Comcast potentially broke a 2011 agreement brokered with the DoJ before Comcast gobbled up NBC/Universal from General Electric: Comcast promised it would rid itself of any management control over Hulu, including its seat on Hulu's board of directors, and make its content available to Hulu for streaming over the 'net.

Comcast did not respond to a request for comment on the WSJ report.

Should the DoJ take up a case against Comcast, the cable giant's planned $45bn acquisition of Time Warner Cable could be in jeopardy. The merger already faces staunch opposition, and is said to be headed for an ominous formal hearing with the FCC. A further DoJ complaint could prove toxic to a deal already considered to be on the rocks. ®

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