Porn flick about Comcast would be called ‘Insatiable’


Comcast Center, the tallest building in Philly, looks like a giant zip drive... or something.

Comcast Center, the tallest building in Philly, looks like a giant zip drive… or something.

Swamp Rabbit and I were reading that Comcast, the nation’s No. 1 cable services provider, has bought out Time Warner Cable, the No. 2 provider. I wondered aloud what’s become of the Federal Communications Commission, the outfit that is supposed to prevent media corporations from establishing monopolies that exploit consumers. And where is the so-called Department of Justice? These questions are at least as old as the 1980s, when Ben Bagdikian wrote The Media Monopoly.

“The FCC done got neutered,” the rabbit said. “I been livin’ in this swamp for years, but even I know that. Where you been?”

Good question. I try to keep up with change, but I can’t figure out how the feds justify allowing companies like Comcast to make such crudely obvious power grabs. It’s hard to overestimate the effect of Comcast’s multimillion-dollar lobbying efforts, or the power of David Cohen, Comcast’s executive vice president, but still…

Here’s part of the explanation, from Guardian UK’s Dan Gilmor:

America’s cable companies grew up in the cozy embrace of local governments that gave them monopoly franchises, which they’ve expanded over the years via mergers and acquisitions, not just normal growth. The noncompetitive local franchise model means that when one cable giant buys another, the customers generally have the same choices as before for subscription TV (cable or satellite) and internet service (cable or phone company DSL).

Whose interest is served by such a deal? The shareholders of TWC and Comcast would be thrilled, for sure. So would the NSA and other surveillance statists, who would undoubtedly be happiest if we reverted to the era when a single behemoth telecommunications enterprise served, for all practical purposes, as an arm of the spy services.

The other main winners would be the remaining telecom “competitors” that would be part of an ever-cozier oligopoly of enterprises that upgrade reluctantly and, compared to providers in other developed nations, grossly overcharge their customers. So look for more mergers, even less user privacy, higher prices and – if this is possible for the generally loathed cable companies – even worse service.

Monopoly wouldn’t be possible without pervasive political corruption. As City Paper’s Daniel Denvir wrote:

Philadelphia’s elected officials will no doubt line up to back Comcast, which recently announced its plans to build a second (taxpayer-subsidized) skyscraper here in its hometown. This is a company that works hard to make political friends, and which is energetically supporting Gov. Tom Corbett’s imperiled reelection campaign.

But still… Isn’t it the job of the feds to make sure media corporations don’t become so powerful they can avoid competition by buying the people who write the laws? And to make sure regulations regarding things like net neutrality don’t get wiped out by the courts?

Maybe the current FCC commissioners and the DoJ have decided today’s media monsters are too big to have to abide by quaint anti-trust laws. In the case of Comcast and TWC, we should know by the end of the year.

Footnote: If the goal is to own all the infrastructure, or “pipes,” then why did Comcast bother to consume NBC Universal, a “content” provider, last year?

Because it could, you dummy,” Swamp Rabbit said.

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This entry was posted in campaign finance reform, City Paper, humor, life in the big city, mainstream media, Philadelphia and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Porn flick about Comcast would be called ‘Insatiable’

  1. I’m really enjoying this blog, and the last two articles in particular, you have a great style and you’re getting to the heart of the problems in the (over)developed world. Thank you. It’s great to see someone talking sense.

  2. oddmanout215 says:

    Thanks, Chris. I really appreciate your comment. I’ve been out of the loop the past few weeks because of an emergency, but I’ll be posting again soon..

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