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Franken to NBC/Comcast: Post all content online

Posted by: Eric Roper under Minnesota U.S. senators Updated: February 23, 2010 - 11:01 AM

Tensions have cooled since Sen. Al Franken's heated questioning of NBC and Comcast execs several weeks ago. Remember, when he accused the companies of being downright dishonest?

But it seems the former NBC employee's inquest into the two companies, which hope to merge, is far from over. Franken recently submitted a series of written questions to both companies, touching on Net Neutrality, unionization and a "terrestrial loophole."

Perhaps most interesting, however, is Franken wrote that he wants the two execs to guarantee they will keep posting their current and future content online on Web sites like Hulu after the merger. On top of that, he asks them to promise that the content won't be available only to Comcast cable subscribers.

Here are the four online content questions courtesy of Franken's office [I've cleaned up some extraneous question marks]:

a) If this merger goes through, will you guarantee that the company won’t remove NBC’s or Comcast’s current shows from the Internet?  b) Can you also guarantee that the merged company won’t provide them only to the company’s cable subscribers? c) If this merger goes through, will you guarantee that the company will place any future shows it owns on the Internet? d) Can you also guarantee that the merged company won’t provide them only to the company’s cable subscribers?

Sen. Amy Klobuchar brought up this issue during the Judiciary Committee hearing, and the execs said they have no plans to change things re: online content.

Franken's questions specifically denote "current" and "future" programming, so archives (read: Stuart Smalley) likely don't apply to this guarranttee.

But it's worth noting that NBC appears to have steered clear of posting anything featuring Franken on its online SNL  archive, which is otherwise quite extensive. And early in Franken's Senate tenure, NBC posted and then pulled an old SNL skit from its Web site and Hulu of Franken impersonating Sen. Paul Simon in the early 1990s. An NBC spokester said at the time that, "We will not be commenting at all on this.”

(h/t to Joe Flint at the L.A. Times, who first reported yesterday about Franken's written questions)

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