HideTechdirt is off for the long weekend! Looking for something to read instead? Check out our new Working Futures anthology »
HideTechdirt is off for the long weekend! Looking for something to read instead? Check out our new Working Futures anthology »

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.

Filed Under: competition, doj, fcc, merger conditions, net neutrality
Companies: comcast, nbc universal

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. 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.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.