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Comcast - Time Warner Cable deal worries some indie networks

Comcast CorporationTime Warner Cable Inc.Media IndustrySatellite and Cable ServiceGlenn BeckSean John Combs

Some small cable networks are worried that a combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable will make getting distribution more difficult.

In a memo to his staff, Eric Sherman, chief executive of health and wellness channel Veria Living, said he is "not optimistic that this new development will be good for us or other independent networks."

Owned by Indian media giant Zee Group, Veria Living is a specialty channel that focuses on Eastern wellness practices. Its programs include "Got Zen?" and "BollyBlast." Zee Group is trying to broaden its appeal to compete with other lifestyle networks.

Sherman, a veteran cable industry executive and former manager of Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler, said in his experience consolidation is never good for networks "that are not owned by one of the major U.S. media conglomerates" that lack the size to leverage distribution agreements for their networks.

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In his letter to staff, Sherman said Veria Living's efforts to get carriage by Comcast and Time Warner Cable have been frustrating. He said the attitude has been, "we will meet with you as many times as you'd like, but we will not give you a deal ... we don't launch channels that we don't have to."

Also concerned is Glenn Beck, the former Fox commentator who started his own network called TheBlaze, which is not distributed by either Comcast or Time Warner Cable. Beck complained about Comcast to his radio audience last week.

Other smaller programmers including the arts network Ovation praised Comcast after the Time Warner Cable deal. Comcast, as part of its deal to acquire NBCUniversal, has also recently launched several new networks including channels fronted by Sean Combs, Magic Johnson and Robert Rodriguez.

A Comcast spokeswoman said the cable operator is "very proud of our track record with independent networks."

ALSO:

Netflix to pay Comcast for smoother transmissions

India's Zee Group taps Eric Sherman to run Veria Living

Comcast acquisition of Time Warner Cable could undermine CBS deal

Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.

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Comcast CorporationTime Warner Cable Inc.Media IndustrySatellite and Cable ServiceGlenn BeckSean John Combs
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