Time to Stop Comcast Monopoly is Now!

5170558150_19c732636f_zNew Orleans       After almost a year and a half of trying to pull the wool over federal regulators and the consumer public, the effort by Comcast to create a predatory monopoly over broadband internet and cable with its proposed merger with Times-Warner seems to finally be coming to a head.   Reportedly, the FCC is now entertaining both parties for the first time in fourteen months on whether it will schedule a public hearing on the merger.  Experts talking to the Wall Street Journal say that if Comcast is not able to stop a hearing, the FCC only schedules one as the kiss of death, which gives us all something to hope for now.

There is encouraging news.  The feds seem to have seen through the Comcast flimflam argument that, “hey, fellas, this is just a simple cable deal,” realizing that the real issue is not cable, which all us techno-peasants know could be an outdated technology on its way to the dustbins of history like home telephones and desktop radio sets.  The FCC realized that the merger would give the monopoly almost 60% of the market for broadband internet.  Furthermore, there is nothing in Comcast’s history or recent record that indicates that they would play nice with a monopoly.   No way, no how.

More good news has emerged from the Justice Department indicating they may be coming late to the game, but finally seem to be looking at the antitrust ramifications of this proposed merger.   In recent weeks, reports have emerged that indicate that there is no determination, but the folks at Justice are not liking what they are seeing so far.

Reading the tea leaves, I would say that they are floating trial balloons to help stiffen the back of the FCC, just as the President had to do on the net neutrality issue.  The FCC is charged with determining whether a merger like this is in the public interest, while Justice looks at antitrust.  Sending a message through the newspapers across the wide Washington, DC boulevards that Justice is skeptical on the merger might be the last push towards the right decision by the FCC.

Supposedly, the FCC is also looking at whether or not the Comcast record on their merger with NBC/Universal indicates they can be trusted on this deal.  The Journal says a deal with Hulu is an issue.  I don’t know Hulu from Hawaii, but I do know their commitment to the FCC order about delivering low cost, accessible service to lower income families with children has been a travesty dressed in hypocrisy.   We have already forced the company to pay fines and extend the years required to deliver on their commitment, and they are nowhere close to doing right.  Giving an outfit like this majority control of broadband internet would guarantee that the digital divide for lower income families would be permanent and unbridgeable.  Too much of the future is tied into the internet to allow a company like Comcast to made inequity a permanent condition dividing everyone forever.

If you haven’t already let the FCC know that this Comcast monopoly has to be stopped, then now is the time to do so.

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Phil Ochs Power and the glory

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Opposition Building to FCC on Net Neutrality and Comcast Monopoly

12217_large_neutral-bitsNew Orleans    Finally, the 1% of 1% out in Silicon Valley is coming out of its stupor and scarey-cat stance in dealing with the Federal Communications Commission to stand with the rest of us in the 99% to oppose former industry lobbyist and new chair Tom Wheeler’s efforts to gut net neutrality on the internet and maybe even stand up to Comcast monopoly proposals.  Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo, and a mess of other high-techers came together in a coalition to write the chairman stating in no uncertain terms that the proposals he is advancing will end net neutrality no matter how smoothly he spins it.

According to New York Times media columnist, David Carr,

The signatories did not mince words, calling the proposal “a grave threat to the Internet.”  The letter goes on: “The commission’s longstanding commitment and actions undertaken to protect the open Internet are a central reason why the Internet remains an engine of entrepreneurship and economic growth,” it reads, continuing, “This commission should take the necessary steps to ensure that the Internet remains an open platform for speech and commerce so that America continues to lead the world in technology markets.”  Translation: You are about to break the Internet and you will be deeply sorry if you do.

Reportedly the chairmen is hurriedly trying to make some amendments and include some assurances that the FCC will look at each and every one of these deals to separate the internet into a high road and low road, a fast and slow lane, but given the continued cozy industry club, toothless way the FCC has regulated, no one buys this for a either a New York minute or a South Dakota stroll.   Netflix has already cut deals with both Comcast and AT&T to make sure its streaming gets priority on the “last mile” even while voicing skepticism.  A drumbeat of opposition from Silicon Valley matched with other almost universal calls to delay issuing these new rules and step back and do better may be enough for the tone deaf FCC to actually get the message.

In other reports with $150 billion of cash reserves in the bank Apple has more cash on hand than Britain and Israel combined.  Adobe, Intel, and Google have another $80 billion in reserves as well.  Needless to say those kinds of bank balances get a lot of attention in the no-campaign contribution limits Washington, DC, so when any of them even sniffle everyone from the White House on down says, “God Bless You!”  Makes me wonder why there are reports that all of them are privately saying they also oppose the Comcast monopoly merger acquisition of Times-Warner cable, and only Netflix is willing to come out in public and oppose the merger so far.

Net neutrality could finally be the muscle flex from the Valley that we need to elbow Comcast back, rather than foolishly believing them and their faux regulator, the FCC, that their monopoly will work out OK for America.  Even Tom Wheeler seems to be getting the message.  In the wake of the building firestorm on his gutting net neutrality, he is offering to hold hearings on facing reality and finally making the internet a public utility, which most of America already believes it is and should be.

People get ready!

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