Why Is The Boys And Girls Club Trying To Kill A Cable Monopoly's Merger Conditions?

from the with-friends-like-these dept

Earlier this month, we noted that Charter (Spectrum) had been lobbying the FCC to eliminate conditions affixed to its 2015 merger with Time Warner Cable. As part of those conditions Charter had to not only adhere to basic net neutrality (regardless of the fact that lobbyists had already killed FCC net neutrality rules), but it was also prohibited from imposing arbitrary, bullshit usage caps and overage fees, or engaging in the kind of "interconnection" shenanigans that caused Netflix streams to slow for Verizon customers earlier this decade. It also had to expand broadband coverage, which it failed utterly at.

Most of the conditions are fairly minor, expire in another few years anyway, and by and large protect consumers from the kind of behaviors cable and broadband monopolies are known for. As Charter lobbies the government, it's employing some... strange bedfellows in its quest to kill the conditions. In New York that apparently includes the Niagara Falls Boys and Girls Club, which wrote a letter to the FCC urging the regulator to prematurely axe the conditions:

In its letter, the Boys and Girls club insists that a recent $5,000 donation by Charter to the organization certainly helped it weather the COVID-19 storm, and that "lifting these conditions will level the playing field for Charter while having zero impact on the online video marketplace."

The organization did not respond to a request for comment as to why it's rushing to the defense of literally one of the least liked companies in America. Keep in mind, this is a company that lied to regulators so routinely about whether it had been meeting merger build out conditions, that the company was almost kicked out of New York State, something I've never seen in twenty years of covering telecom.

The organization's claims also aren't true. Usage caps aren't technically necessary, drive up costs for consumers (most notably low income communities), and are routinely abused anti-competitively by giant ISPs. They saddle consumers with additional, confusing costs, something that's not particularly helpful during a pandemic-induced economic crisis. While Charter's merger probably should have been blocked completely, the conditions actively protect the folks the Boys and Girls Club is supposed to be representing, and opposing them undermines the groups constituents.

Of course, corporations funding organizations in exchange for support for terrible policies is nothing new.

A wide variety of groups take telecom cash to repeat whatever they're told, whether it's rural Texas school associations, the U.S. Cattlemen's Association, civil rights advocacy organizations, or even balloonist clubs. Some of these groups are created specifically for this purpose. Other times, these groups are "co-opted" without fully understanding what they're actually supporting in a bid to keep funding flowing. For lobbyists the overall is simple: to create the illusion of broad support for bad ideas the actual public -- minority or otherwise -- actually oppose.

And, to be clear, most objective parties don't support eliminating some fairly modest merger conditions affixed to one of the most despised monopolies in America. Of course as the FCC fielded comments up until July 22, a lot of similar groups were doing the same thing hoping nobody notices:

Most of the time this kind of undocumented quid pro quo (we'll donate to a new event center if you support deregulation or our latest merger) simply involves making a few filings to the FCC that the broader public never sees (and the press never covers because this sort of thing doesn't exactly drive ad eyeballs). But the efforts still routinely undermine the constituents these groups are supposed to be representing, and groups should at least take the time to understand the positions they're taking before wading into the fray.

Filed Under: astroturf, competition, fcc, merger conditions, mergers
Companies: charter, charter spectrum, time warner cable


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jul 2020 @ 6:55am

    Someone's obviously thinking of the children ... as pawns in a publicity game.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 23 Jul 2020 @ 6:59am

    Well, now we know it costs $5000 to by the Niagara Boys and Girls Club.

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

  • identicon
    Glenn, 23 Jul 2020 @ 7:09am

    Now, boys and girls... can you spell "bribery" (I knew you could).

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

  • identicon
    Not THAT AC, 23 Jul 2020 @ 7:44am

    Charter is simply "Thinking of the children" - and how their power can be leveraged.

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

  • icon
    Flakbait (profile), 23 Jul 2020 @ 8:28am

    Well, if it's 5 grand to get a letter sent to the FCC, I wonder how much it would cost to get the Niagara Falls Boys & Girls Club to write a letter to my boss explaining that I need time off because I'm such an upright and outstanding citizen, and that an extended vacation would be really, really beneficial to the community?

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

  • icon
    zboot (profile), 23 Jul 2020 @ 8:46am

    Seems Normal

    After replacing my roof and being told I was happy with the work they did, the roofers offered incentives to write reviews. If after that, the roofing company told me about a pesky bill in the state legislature that would hurt their ability to pay me even more incentives continue providing great roofing services. . . I maybe convinced to throw a sentence in about that.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Jul 2020 @ 9:29am

    Like having a handy little 'sellouts' chart

    While such efforts may present a paper-thing facade of support it also nicely highlights the groups that are more than willing to sell out any integrity they might have for what amounts to chump change and therefore have shown that they have their member's best interests at heart right up until someone pays them to do otherwise, at which point they will throw said members under however many buses are requested.

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

  • icon
    Code Monkey (profile), 23 Jul 2020 @ 10:17am

    Wording...

    Not sure I would have put "Boys and Girls club" and "strange bedfellows" in the same sentence......

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

    • identicon
      ROGS, for lack of a better world, 23 Jul 2020 @ 10:51am

      Re: Wording...

      Really?

      Apparently, you have never met the Rotary club /Lions /Freemasons unspecified club types who work in, or are retired from policing.

      These seek out access to lower income/disadvantaged children, and these organized, poluce and military affilliated pedophiles work anywhere /everywhere that they can access kids, rubbing those kids noses in their “lack of authority figures ”.

      These of course, having decapitated whole families, after infiltrating said clubs.

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

  • identicon
    ROGS, for lack of a better world, 23 Jul 2020 @ 10:41am

    re: gang stalking

    Boys and Girls clubs are major targets of police infiltration, and manipulation, as covered by The Intercept in various articles:

    https://theintercept.com/2017/02/02/chicago-needs-police-reform-not-trumps-national-guard-an-interv iew-with-jamie-kalven/

    This type of police /corpirate /NGO collusion, aka “organized gang stalking,” is extremely widespread.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 23 Jul 2020 @ 12:33pm

    Just a comment...

    DOnt letter heads include a Address from the sender??

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

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 23 Jul 2020 @ 12:35pm

    How cheap?

    I wonder if they'd write a letter for me, for $500? $50? $5? We already know they are for sale cheap, I'm just wondering how low they'll go?

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


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