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Comcast CEO Brian Roberts on Cable's High-Tech Future

Brian L. Roberts
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Brian L. Roberts

I grabbed Comcast CEO Brian Roberts for an interview at CES.

After walking the show floor he says it seems that the *consumer* is king, as all these technologies on display give increasing flexibility for how, when, where and what consumers can watch. The value consumers get when it comes to accessing content is also increasing as consumers will soon get 3D television at an affordable price.

3D is a hot topic for Roberts, particularly struck by the fast pace of innovation in bringing 3D to the home. Unlike the launch of HD TVs a couple years ago, the new 3-D enabled televisions are only a couple hundred dollars more than a 2D set, which should make adoption much faster. And just as Comcast is the largest provider of high def TV, he says the company wants to be the largest provider of 3D.

On the heels of Time Warner Cable striking an 11th hour deal with News Corp for broadcast retransmission fees, and ahead of NBC Universal's own negotiation with Comcast, what's the future of content compensation? Roberts says that when the NBC Universal merger is complete, he hopes to "play a constructive role" as part of both the programming and broadcasting businesses. Consumers want choices and content creators want to be paid more. Roberts was confident that these kinds of negotiations generally work themselves out.

Less than an hour before we sat down FCC Chair Julius Genachowski issued a statement on Comcast vs. the FCC about Internet access, saying, "This case underscores the importance of the FCC's ongoing rulemaking to preserve the free and open Internet. I remain confident the Commission possesses the legal authority it needs and look forward to reviewing the court's decision when it issues."

Roberts' response is that having clarity from the FCC on Internet usage will be great, and that things seem to be on track.

Most of all, in the face of FCC regulation, he says "we want rules to allow the innovation we're seeing here at CES to continue."

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.