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BK Blog Post
Posted by Wade Rathke.
Wade Rathke is the founder of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) – a nationwide activist network engaged in community organizing.
Austin The failure of Comcast’s monopoly-merger mania would almost be Biblical in the “pride cometh before a fall” sense if it were not so predictable, and if, we, and thankfully a whole lot of other people in a whole lot of other places, had not repeatedly tried to tell them so and warn them repeatedly. But, it’s really not Biblical, it’s more a P.T. Barnum problem of their thinking that because they could fool the people once, they could fool them all the time.
And, speaking of pride, I swelled up a bit reading the lead paragraphs in the New York Times analyzing their mega-fail and starting with the fake digital divide effort Comcast pretended to make on their so-called “internet essentials” program where the FCC had ordered that they provide a low-cost access to lower income families in order to gobble up NBC/Universal, and as we have frequently outlined they spend more on wining and dining local politicians and making so-called contributions to groups they wanted to have stand up for them before the FCC than they ever spent on actually doing the outreach or following through on the program. Though they claim that only paid a fine on one condition of the order, they gloss over the fact that they had to pay $750,000 and add a year for their huge failure and fake effort on helping to bridge the digital divide.
This Comcast scam is too egregious and finally its comeuppance is too delicious not to quote in full:
“Critics, however, call Internet Essentials, a public relations stunt that failed to deliver on its promise, with restrictive qualifications, limited reach and poor service. Comcast committed to making the program available to 2.5 million low-income households. The company announced in March that the program had connected 450,000 families – or about 17 percent of eligible households….’Regulators were sold a bill of goods,’ said John Bergmayer…at Public Knowledge, a consumer advocacy group that has criticized the effectiveness of Internet Essentials…’I’d be curious whether they spent more time marketing in D.C. to policy makers than to people who qualify for the program.’”
That’s not a curiosity, that’s a statement of fact, and not just in DC but in any city hall and governmental jurisdiction where they operated.
In the same piece the report says, “Comcast officials say that the population is difficult to reach and that getting people to sign up for the service has been harder than they thought.” Balderdash! We told David Cohen, the chief flak, repeatedly and to his face that handing out leaflets to beleaguered school teachers was NOT an outreach program. WE told him to his face, in writing, and repeatedly up and down the Comcast chain in Congressmen’s offices and with his governmental relations folks that the program was too complex, there was no follow through, you couldn’t sign up, they tried to upsell people, the computers didn’t work, etc, etc, and they accused us of “shaking them down.” Look who is busted now.
Turns out now that the deal has collapse, that they also couldn’t get over the fact as well that their customers, many of whom are also voters, don’t like high priced, crummy cable and internet coupled with rude and non-existent customer service. Really? Is that a surprise to anyone but Comcast? And, did Brian Roberts, the Comcast chief, really think promising the FCC’s Tom Wheeler that they would deliver “first in class service” had any credibility whatsoever. Justice was sure there were antitrust problems and the FCC was sure not only that the deal was not in the public interest, but also that there was no way that they could hold Comcast accountable. Comcast proved that to them on NBC Universal.
It’s not over.
They may call Philadelphia their corporate headquarters and they may be waving around the fact they are building a second high rise, but they are now facing a franchise renewal hearing. What goes around, comes around and our campaign partner, Action United in Pennsylvania will undoubtedly be at the hearing to remind Comcast how lame their internet essentials program has been, how terrible their service is, and what they demand Comcast is going to have to do to get right with the people in the City of Brotherly Love, as opposed to Wall Street and Washington.