Comcast Ramps Up Ad Campaign Claiming To Support Net Neutrality, Even As It Really Supports Killing It

from the truth-in-advertising... dept

We just wrote about how the FCC is now claiming that it will enforce its "transparency" rules that require some sort of truth in advertising. If that's the case, it might want to take a close look at Comcast's recent "truthy" advertising campaign, which it's running online, in newspapers and on TV, claiming that it's a huge supporter of "net neutrality." In fact, in a recent video ad, Comcast flat out claims that it wants to "extend net neutrality protection."
Here's a newspaper ad from the Washington Post making the same dubious claim:
And it's running web ads that make the same claims. Here are some screenshots a reader sent me of parts of a Comcast ad he spotted on Daily Caller:




Comcast defends this position by claiming, first, that it's bound by the original 2010 FCC open internet rules, as part of the conditions of its big merger with NBC Universal. That part is true. Just about everything else is misleading or bogus. First, the FCC's 2010 open internet rules were always a weak sauce. They barely allowed the FCC to do anything and there were tons of loopholes. Being bound by those rules was never really being bound by any true sense of net neutrality.

Also, as Brian Fung at the Washington Post points out, the merger conditions only last a few more years. And then Comcast is free to do whatever it wants within the "new" rules:
But what Comcast doesn't say is that its commitment to "full" net neutrality expires in 2018. After that, it will no longer be legally bound to follow the 2010 rules, and it'll be free to abandon that commitment literally overnight. Comcast does not note this detail in its ads; nor does it explain how its policies may change in 2018.

In a statement to the Post, Comcast said the expiration of its net neutrality commitment was a "red herring" because it didn't have a problem with the 2010 rules and continues to "have no issue, long term, with them."

That's not the same as laying out what'll happen in 2018, however...
And, of course, the FCC won't do anything about this, and Comcast can continue to claim it as true, mainly because the FCC is pretending that it's currently proposed rules, under Section 706 are about preserving net neutrality. That's why Comcast is among those whose filings with the FCC were about how great the FCC plan is. Because it allows them (and AT&T) to pretend that they're "supporters" of net neutrality when the truth of the matter is that the plan would fling the doors wide open on the end of a neutral end-to-end internet.

The problem, in part, is that there's been so much "noise" about what is and what is not net neutrality, that Comcast has embraced this incredibly cynical (and really misleading) plan to claim to be for full net neutrality -- even extending net neutrality -- when the reality is that it's actually supporting the FCC's current plans under Section 706, which have a loophole you can drive a cable truck through to end net neutrality, with the term "commercially reasonable." And, of course, since your everyday person-on-the-street doesn't know the details and the differences between Title II and Section 706, they might actually believe that Comcast has their back -- when it's really stabbing them in the back.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jul 2014 @ 9:54am

    Comcast video streaming doesn't count against data usage caps, I believe. They're already anti-net neutral. Comcast is seeing large declines in TV cable subscriptions. Yet nobody seems to be dropping broadband internet service.

    Now people are paying $10 a month for Netflix. Much cheaper than $60 month for Comcast cable. Plus there's some new punk on the block who kinda looks like a duck, offering live streaming internet TV names Aereo.

    This current net neutrality debate boils down to last-mile residential ISPs not wanting to give up control as the gatekeepers of live stream TV access and On-demand movie rentals.

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