The head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division said his department plans to take a closer look at Comcast’s involvement in Hulu’s management, now that restrictions tied to its acquisition of NBCUniversal have expired.
Assistant Attorney General Markhan Delrahim told a Senate subcommittee today that his office will examine whether the U.S. cable giant will take any actions that would harm Hulu’s competitiveness, according to a Bloomberg report.
“Hulu could be a competitor to the cable business,” Delrahim said. “And it’s one that we will examine carefully to see if they might take any conduct that would harm its ability to compete within their market.”
Comcast holds a 30% stake in ownership of the streaming service, which it shares with The Walt Disney Co. and 21st Century Fox. The proposed merger of Disney and Fox would hand the combined media company a controlling 60% interest in Hulu.
AT&T’s WarnerMedia has a minority 10% share.
The cable giant’s involvement in Hulu had been restricted by its agreement with the Justice Department that came with its purchase of NBCUniversal. As part of that deal, Comcast remained essentially a silent partner in the streaming service’s operation.
Once those conditions expired, Comcast appointed three directors to Hulu — its first active involvement in seven years. One of the committee members, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), asked Delrahim if Comcast’s direct involvement in the subscription service raised concerns at the DOJ.
The DOJ previously notified Comcast that it plans to keep an eye on the company.