Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Comcast Violates an Unwritten Law

When a venture has petitioned the FCC to approve an acquisition, or to provide greater regulatory relief an unwritten law requires the petitioner to lay low. Comcast has violated this law by imposing, for the second time this year in Pennsylvania, a significant rate hike well in excess of the rate of inflation at the very same time it wants the FCC to approve the company’s acquition of NBC. Not smart.


Comcast surely must know that the optics of buying NBC do not look great no matter how much Comcast says such a transaction will promote competition. Raising both cable and Internet access rates reinforces the notion that the company has market power and faces limited competitive constraints. Of course this is the very company that does not want to pay anything for retransmission consent to carry broadcast television stations even as it charges subscribers $14.50 for the privilege. This company has fought a decade long battle to stymie alternatives to lucrative set top box rentals and now wants the FCC to abandon any efforts to promote CableCards and other alternatives.

It seems as though Comcast cannot lay low even during a time it wants a big gift from the FCC. The least the company could do is throw a gold-plated crumb to subscribers.

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