Comcast, Internet, Arrogance, and Free Speech

Community Organizing Ideas and Issues Labor Organizing

New Orleans    Another day, another dollar in Comcast land where it turns out in their view of the world, no promises need be kept, customers should pay and not be heard, government is only for them, not for the people, and if they say it’s good, then, damn, it must be good:  Comcast-in-wonderland!

In Shreveport as Local 100 United Labor Union members pushed Comcast for action and access to the Internet for our Head Start parents, TV cameras were rolling and they were “not happy” as one of our members reported.

In Philadelphia where they had promised that there would be a detailed response to demands that our partner, ACTION United had brought forward in behalf of our coalition two weeks previously, yesterday came and went with no response from the company.   Houston Local 100 members got the same response from two Comcast governmental relations guys in their meeting on Friday.  Little Rock is waiting for its meeting soon.  We are on a “need to know” basis!

In Philly and Pittsburgh, members of ACTION United are taking the Comcast issue forward with a “baloney” sandwich picnic in their honor today.

City staffers in Pittsburgh sympathetic to our demands that Comcast lower the digital divide forwarded us an email from the local Comcast executive which is priceless in its arrogance and, frankly, lack of good sense about the basics involved in a democracy including the freedom of speech for folks like us who want to really see their Internet program work.  Somehow, Pittsburgh Comcast’s “Frank” seems to believe that if Comcast says “internet essentials” is a “great program,” then that ought to be enough said without worrying about the fact that no one is getting the Internet and virtually no one knows about the program.  Ol’ Frank wants to pretend that’s all on the shoulders of the Pittsburgh School System, because they haven’t “reported any complaints.”

Frank, ol’ buddy, first it’s not the job of the public schools to shill your so-called “internet essentials” program for you, and, secondly, if virtually no one has heard of your so-called “great” program, how would they complain?  And, who would they complain to?  Well, Frank, they would do exactly what they are doing and complain to people and organizations just like us who are committed to making sure that Comcast delivers on their program to provide low cost internet access.  And, despite your request to the Pittsburgh City Council members that they simply “not listen” to us as you indicated in your email, we’ve got news for you, they actually believe that it’s important to listen and respond to citizens (you might call them customers if you cared to actually really provide lower income families with internet!).

Don’t take my word for it.  Listen to Frank’s own words drawn from his email:

I have communicated with the Pgh Public Schools yesterday and they told me they have not received any complaints about the program.  We [Comcast?] ask that you do not [Frank’s bold!] engage with this group [ACTION United] and if any questions need to be answered please follow up with me.  Internet Essentials is a great program and benefits all families whose children are on the Free lunch program whether they are a Comcast customer or not.

The whole email is a classic, and, personally, I would simply love [my emphasis!] to know how Frank believes that this program currently benefits “all families…whether they are a Comcast customer or not.”

But, answers to those questions are unlikely to be available today in Pittsburgh even to members of ACTION United; since Frank also made it clear he was not going to actually show up at the City Council meeting.  Oh, no, not Frank, he’s a cable guy with Comcast.  He signed off saying, he’ll “watch on TV.”

Hello, Comcast!  Let us introduce you to America.  It’s a different country than you imagined it might be!  Live up to your word.  Provide real access to the internet for the poor, and agree to be accountable to your promises.  Hear our demands and “engage” with us directly!