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Comcast denies Apple NBCU spat

The rumored programming standoff between Apple and NBCUniversal has been emphatically denied by Comcast, parent of NBCUniversal.

In an ex parte filed on the FCC’s site on Friday, Comcast said it has not even been approached by Apple to provide programming for Apple’s rumored over the top TV service.

The ex-parte was in response to the “Stop Mega Comcast” Coalition  (SMC)  which cited a Wall Street Journal report suggesting that Comcast, the owner of NBCU, was stiff arming the Cupertino giant.

Comcast said SMC’s claims were based on “ripped from the headlines innuendo.”

“The plain facts undermine SMC’s latest salvo.  Not only has NBCUniversal not ‘withheld’ programming from Apple’s new venture. Apple has not even approached NBCUniversal which such a request. Meanwhile, NBCUniversal has licensed substantial amounts of content to Apple in connection with the platforms for which Apple has approached NBCUniversal,” the company said in its filing.

When the WSJ article appeared, opponents to the $45 billion merger used the story as one more piece of evidence that Comcast and Time Warner should not merge.

“It appears from press reports that Comcast may be withholding its affiliated NBCUniversal content in an effort to thwart the entry of potential new video competitors” wrote the SMC in a March 25 ex parte.

While merger opponents embraced the article’s assertions, analysts questioned the report, pointing to conditions of the Comcast NBCUniversal that all but compel NBCU to share content with OTT services.

The FCC recently stopped the informal merger review “stop clock” pending the outcome of a court case that could give the commission access to program carriage deals. Because of the pause, Comcast moved to mid-year the the date it expected regulators to complete their review.