Comcastrophe: The Devil Is In The Shakedown

According to many, Obama, the once upon a time great hope peddler, speaks with a forked tongue when it comes to what he says, or said during his campaign, and what he does when it comes to the people who elected him. Though still hailed as “the most popular guy in town,” let’s face it, by beltway standards, that isn’t saying much considering our illustrious Congress has but a 9% approval rating. But foreign policy, and Washington politics aside, this blog is concerned with the future of the Internet, technology’s future, which we consider flying tandem with the economy of our nation and the entire world.

So what about the Comcast/NBC deal, and the conglomerate fixation in Washington which he also promised he would halt? Well here is what the NYTimes article by Arango and Stelter said Comcast thought of the deal, and what it cost them:

“’I don’t think any of the conditions are particularly restrictive,’ said David L. Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast, in a conference call on Tuesday afternoon. He noted that the company was not forced to sell any assets. It did agree, however, to give up NBC’s management role in Hulu, the premier online TV Web site, while retaining a financial stake.”

Free Press, a nonprofit media reform group, said it failed to live up to “ Barack Obama’s promise to promote media diversity and prevent excessive media concentration.”

And from Marvin Ammori, a law professor at the University of Nebraska, “Keith Olbermann’s announcement tonight, the very same week that the government blessed the Comcast-NBC merger, raises serious concern for anyone who cares about free speech. Comcast proved expert in shaking down the government to approve its merger. Comcast’s shakedown of NBC has just begun.” Professor Ammori is a former adviser to the nonprofit group Free Press, which opposed the Comcast-NBC deal.”

Even the NYTimes labeled it now a “media powerhouse” and after living through the corruption of the breakup and subsequent waste of publicly owned resources of the bell companies, this is too much déjà vu all over again. Apologies to Yogi Berra, but unlike the lack of competition that went on during those decades, the U.S.A. faces terminal competition around the world in places where leaders have sniffed out the stakes and dug a few into the hearts and minds of those hoping for a level playing field. Nothing will do more to stifle entrepreneurship in this country than the complete capitulation by this administration to the deep pockets of the lowly Comcast and the flailing likes of NBC.

Like most things Internet, I don’t think anyone in Washington or politics period has the slightest clue what is at stake, only the stakes for getting funds to get re-elected apparently. No wonder the president is bragging about raising a billion dollars for his re-election campaign. In spite of it all, just as Wall Street hasn’t a clue why no one likes Microsoft, no one understands how much people despise Comcast. But who will it be that takes them out, and leaves the next trail of waste in their path?


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