With The Death Of Net Neutrality & NBC Merger Conditions, Comcast Is Free To Misbehave

from the a-storm's-a'-comin' dept

Comcast has been having some massive "success" on the lobbying and policy front of late. Its lobbyists have successfully dismantled both net neutrality and privacy rules at the FCC. They've killed efforts to bring competition to the cable box. They've also successfully convinced Ajit Pai's FCC to effectively neuter its authority over lumbering telecom monopolies, kicking all remaining authority over to an FTC that's ill-equipped to actually hold Comcast accountable. The company has also been pushing hard to prevent states from being able to protect broadband and TV consumers either.

Given Comcast's quickly growing monopoly over fixed-line broadband, combined with its growing international footprint in media, it shouldn't be hard to see how we're building a perfect vacuum of limited accountability for one of the more anti-competitive companies in America. With neither competition nor even modest regulatory oversight to constrain it, it's not speculation to note that there's every indication that the Comcast everybody loves to hate is poised to become notably more obnoxious with little constraining its less ethical tendencies.

Comcast's dream scenario of no competition, and paltry state and federal oversight will soon get another gift in the expiration of the merger conditions affixed to the company's 2011 acquisition of NBC Universal. Conditions such as offering discounted broadband, promises to avoid hamstringing Hulu's competitive potential (Comcast is a co-owner), and restrictions on Comcast's treatment of smaller video programmers and distributors will all soon evaporate. Sure, the government let Comcast ignore many of these with no real punishment, but many of them still helped keep Comcast's worst habits in check.

For its part, the DOJ fired off a memo to Comcast last week stating that while the conditions expired, it would still be keeping an eye on Comcast for any potential anti-competitive behavior:

"The department retains jurisdiction to enforce the antitrust laws and takes its obligations seriously,” Makan Delrahim, head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, wrote in the letter obtained by Bloomberg. “We would appreciate your cooperation in keeping us informed by providing the department with any plans you may have to change your policies or practices involving video programming and distribution.”

Yes, Comcast, do let us know in writing if you intend to behave anti-competitively.

Of course antitrust enforcement in this country isn't what it used to be. The powers that helped the government break up the ma bell monopoly have been largely eroded after decades of lobbying. And the DOJ's latest attempt to hold vertically-integrated powerhouses like AT&T in check recently fell flat on its face, thanks to said erosions locking DOJ lawyers into very specific confines of economic theory, and a comically-terrible misreading of AT&T's anti-competitive potential (especially in the wake of the death of net neutrality) by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon.

In short, thanks to Comcast lobbying you've got no net neutrality, a crippled and beholden FCC, potentially-handcuffed states (depending on how well the ISPs and Ajit Pai's pre-emption gambit goes), and little-to-no competition in broadband (especially at faster speeds). And while Comcast will likely try and behave on the net neutrality front until the looming court case is settled, it shouldn't be hard to see how this growing competition and accountability vacuum is, sooner or later, only likely to make America's least liked company more obnoxious than ever.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 6:29am

    Sure, it's advertised that they're free to misbehave but once you add up all below-the-line fees the actual price jumps up quite a bit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Richard Bennett, 6 Sep 2018 @ 6:33am

    Bodey McBodeface lies, rides again!

    Once again Karl seeks to give me alcohol poisoning with nothing but huff and puff in hopes that you'll draw your attention away from the elephant in the room that is Google.

    Ajit Pai is coming for you, Bodey. Once Silicon Valley is done, you're next.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 7:04am

      Re: Bodey McBodeface lies, rides again!

      Please try to add to the conversation, instead of random shouting and insults. It would be more useful to everyone reading what you have to say if you could detail what you think are lies, and why you think they are lies, so that the rest of us could be informed if something is, in fact, a lie.

      Otherwise it's so much hot air that edifies no one.

      If you're a parody of something, I'd recommend stopping, since it's ... not entertaining.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 6 Sep 2018 @ 7:11am

        Re: Re: Bodey McBodeface lies, rides again!

        It's a parody, though not really that far removed from the original. Who, I don't recall having seen post recently, come to think of it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 7:36am

          Re: Re: Re: Bodey McBodeface lies, rides again!

          He did post about a week ago, but once again it was so full of obvious lies he ran off again to lick his wounds from the beating he took.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Richy Boo Boo, 6 Sep 2018 @ 7:41am

      Re: Bodey McBodeface lies, rides again!

      Oh yes my alternate me, that's it. Blame Carl for our alcohol abuse.

      "draw your attention away from the elephant in the room"
      Is it pink?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 8:38am

      Re: Bodey McBodeface lies, rides again!

      You are absolutely hilarious.Sometimes it's difficult to believe that some people are real.

      Google has issues. They are not the same as those of the likes of Comcast. Get the DOJ or some relevant agency to write a letter to Google about some real issue. Pretty sure it would be covered here.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Tip Ickle, 6 Sep 2018 @ 8:50am

      Stats on Typical Techdirt: HALF the comments entirely useless.

      First there's false use of "Richard Bennett" screen name to apparently try to discredit that person. I don't understand why snowflake Bode isn't condemning that, after his LONG series whining someone falsely made comments in his name on FCC site. -- Anyway, though as noted, the real account hasn't shown up since... (quick look up via my own maniacal list) August 30th, someone still believes it's worthwhile to attack in advance.

      That someone apparently believes is doing the site a favor with this stupidity. It's so frequent (with rather obscure reference) that is definitely a regular. -- Also note that this stupidity is never "hidden", so it's fully approved by "the community", a lack of response moving the site toward MORE stupid, especially by commenting at it:

      2 is apparently random noob still in the "please do better" stage who can't tell that's what passes for "satire" here. 3 is a true maniac, currently the most prolix commenter, though still short of most comments with only 15,000. He's closing in on the record without adding any interest. If average 6 minutes on site per comment (many are long), that's roughly 1500 hours JUST commenting here on Techdirt. There's only 200 x 8 hours in normal work-year, so this maniac has spent nearly a nearly year "working" here! WHO pays him? Does his employer know what he's actually doing on company time? (IF SO, then potentially liable!) 4 is clearly another regular, and takes a shot too. 5 is another ankle-biter, rather confusing, and oddly mis-spelling "Karl".

      So now we have a chain of drivel -- to which I happily add facts and snark -- which is what passes for comments here.

      Five regulars clearly total up to nothing, yet they'll censor MY comments! -- As this one will prove yet again!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Tip Ickle, 6 Sep 2018 @ 8:53am

        Re: Stats on Typical Techdirt: HALF the comments entirely useless.

        Oh, forgot to look, but there's number 6 of the regulars saying it's hilarious. I always over-estimate this site.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 6 Sep 2018 @ 9:14am

        Re:

        "HALF the comments entirely useless"

        ....so you decided to add more useless comments to increase the ratio?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 9:47am

        Re: Stats on Typical Techdirt: HALF the comments entirely useless.

        Didn't you hear, blue?

        Richard Bennett insisted that it doesn't matter if the comment was made using the real or fake name; it's the idea that counts.

        And frankly, the ridiculous namecalling and lack of substantiated points makes me inclined to believe this is the real Dick.

        But what a surprise to see you cocksucking for Comcast the corporation with Dick. And by a surprise, I mean no fucking duh.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 9:48am

          Re: Re: Stats on Typical Techdirt: HALF the comments entirely useless.

          "And frankly, the ridiculous namecalling and lack of substantiated points makes me inclined to believe this is the real Dick."

          The name calling is irrelevant... it's the lack of substance that is the constant problem. And this place is devoid of any substance.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Richard Bennett, 6 Sep 2018 @ 9:53am

          Re: Re: Stats on Typical Techdirt: HALF the comments entirely useless.

          I'll have you know that running damage control for ISPs is good, honest work, which pirates like you won't touch. Because you pirates think net neutrality and Section 230 are the universal solution for you to drain our economy of all its resources.

          Instead you work at blocking my IP addresses just so Bodey can have his say. Disgusting. Question Comcast at your own peril, and that of your wallets. Oh, right. Pirates don't pay for anything.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 10:21am

            Re: Re: Re: Stats on Typical Techdirt: HALF the comments entirely useless.

            What does "running damage control for ISPs" entail?
            Is this like a fixer or is it actual work where real damage is repaired and what kind of damage? Hard drives that crap out? Bad NIC? What are you controlling and why would I not touch it? Is your employer really that bad?

            I am not a pirate and I do not think that "net neutrality and Section 230 are the universal solution" for anything. Why would you claim such when you know nothing?

            Why yes - I am blocking your IP addr right now - lol

            Wait, is this the fake Richard Bennett?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        lucidrenegade (profile), 6 Sep 2018 @ 10:45am

        Re: Stats on Typical Techdirt: HALF the comments entirely useless.

        Anyway, though as noted, the real account hasn't shown up since... (quick look up via my own maniacal list) August 30th

        It's really sad that you keep a list of when people login. Please seek mental help or a doctor who performs euthanasia.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 6:41pm

          Re: Re: Stats on Typical Techdirt: HALF the comments entirely useless.

          I think the cherry on top is how blue even refers to his own list as "maniacal"...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 6 Sep 2018 @ 6:43am

    California has a middle finger raised against these idiots on the broadband front :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 6:52am

    nationalize!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 7:04am

      Re:

      What a bad idea

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 9:47am

        Re: Re:

        well for some, but not for others.

        the crux of all conflict... some like the idea while others do not.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 10:23am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The wealthy would like it while everyone else would hardly notice, it still is a bad idea regardless.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 10:43am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The wealthy will survive either or, there is nothing you are going to do that will stop that.

            The Pareto principle has always existed in any society, no matter how far left, right, liberal, conservative, or other <insert politic> it goes.

            The ignorant masses are always ruled by the knowing few. If you are poor by the age 40, there is a substantial chance that you are a member of the ignorant mass. If you are in the top 20% there is a substantial chance that you are a member of the knowing few.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 10:59am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "The ignorant masses are always ruled by the knowing few"
              - This is not correct. In fact it may be completely opposite in that the ignorant are now in the wht hse and the "knowing" are being attacked.

              "If you are poor by the age 40, there is a substantial chance that you are a member of the ignorant mass"
              - I have met several veterans who are definitely not ignorant and yet they are part of the growing segment of society referred to as poor. Your claim is both ignorant and arrogant.

              "If you are in the top 20% there is a substantial chance that you are a member of the knowing few."
              - Complete bullshit. Many in the 1% are grossly ignorant as evidenced in the news, have you not been reading any?

              Such typical stereotypes are all too plentiful and it seems to be getting even more ridiculous.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 11:20am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "- This is not correct. In fact it may be completely opposite in that the ignorant are now in the wht hse and the "knowing" are being attacked."

                It is totally correct, your or my opinions are not what is important... that is just what the data shows, you are free to hate it... it only makes you wrong.

                "- I have met several veterans who are definitely not ignorant and yet they are part of the growing segment of society referred to as poor. Your claim is both ignorant and arrogant."

                I said "substantial chance", obviously there is room for exceptions and exceptions are not disproof of the rule and to imply that this is such only shows your ignorance. My "claims" are not claims, it's just data and facts. You are are the arrogant and ignorant one.

                "- Complete bullshit. Many in the 1% are grossly ignorant as evidenced in the news, have you not been reading any?"

                The only person full of the bullshit is you. Again, I remind you that exceptions are no disproof of the rule. You are just a victim of over representation where the idiots get most of the attention. I have met more than enough of both sides. Even though my on opinions do not count the data still does.


                "Such typical stereotypes are all too plentiful and it seems to be getting even more ridiculous."

                There are stereotypes for a reason, the real travesty are those like you confusing people with a few exceptions and baseless rhetoric because they have been educated to be wrong so they can feel falsely superior. You can be as ridiculous as you want... these facts will not be changing as they have existed for centuries of recorded history. Leading to... the Pareto Principle in the first place.

                And it does not only apply to riches and wealth either.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 12:14pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Exceptions are not a disproof of a rule .. ok.

                  How many exceptions are needed in order to question "the rule"? How are exceptions needed before saying it is no longer considered to be "a rule"?

                  It's just another isolated incident, no worries, nothing to see here, move along.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 12:28pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  You have not provided proof that any of what you say is true. Given that and that we do not see any evidence of your claims, why should we believe what you say to be true if you do not provide evidence to support your claims?

                  To all of your points and claims, I say:

                  [CITATION NEEDED]

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Chip, 6 Sep 2018 @ 12:16pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                What you have note "Accounted" FOR is how Smart Ia m. You can "Tell" that I am Smart because when I say "nuh Uh" I say it Using Bigger WORDS, such as Pareto "principle".

                Because I use big Words, and also because I eat paint "chips", you mus Acknowledge my obvious Genius. I bet "you" don't even know what a Pareto IS.

                Every Nation eats the Paint chips it Dseres!

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Too Much Coffee Man, 9 Sep 2018 @ 10:40am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              So Paris Hilton is a member of the knowing few?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2018 @ 12:17pm

      Re: HOW MANY HERE..?

      How many of you REMEMBER when all you basic utilities were from the STATE??
      Water, sewer, Trash, Electric, and a few others..
      The prices remained Constant and HARDLY ever went up in value..
      Then some Oddball Gov. decided it was better to PRIVATIZE IT..
      Saying that it wouldnt be any worse..

      But as with ANY CORP..THEY WANT PROFIT, and MORE profit..
      But understand something..
      WHO BUILT THE INFRASTRUCTURE?? The GOV. BUILT IT..
      In the Electrical business WHERE do they get all that power?? WHO maintains the system??
      Who keeps the POLES UP?? Those Poles that are over 30+ years old..

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 6 Sep 2018 @ 1:01pm

    FTC

    Whats interesting..
    is IF/WHEN the FTC decides to do something..
    Like:
    REQUIRE that the adverts they have TELL THE TRUTH..
    REQUIRE them to meet up with CONTRACTS they have and match the Speeds they said they would make.\
    MAKE a REAL map of Cellphone access
    A real map of Internet speeds..

    The FTC may not be able to regulate much, but they CAN REQUIRE TRUTH IN ADVERTS.. TRUTH in contracts.. Adherence to CONTRACTS..

    They can also be Sued Thru the FTC..by anyone with a complaint.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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