Hungry Monster: Comcast
By occassia Posted in: Blazers
On Tuesday, January 18, 2011, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice gave Comcast the go ahead to acquire NBC Universal. The deal was completed at midnight EST last night, January 28, 2011.
Why should we care?
Over the past few years Comcast has repeatedly suppressed competition from rival providers —whenever it could get away with it. Its bad corporate behavior includes outright blocking of internet access to certain services, and failure to establish reasonable agreements with smaller cable companies and satellite providers across the nation.
Around here, we’re only too familiar with the lack of agreements. For the first four years of the Blazers’ 10-year contract with Comcast, Northwest fans have been forced to subscribe to Comcast —or miss about two-thirds of a season’s games on television. Those whose budget doesn’t stretch to cover expensive sports packages, or who live in a metropolitan or rural area not served by Comcast, are simply out of luck.
Although the contract contains language requiring the cable company to make Blazer programming "available to other cable and satellite providers throughout the region," this has not, for the most part, happened. Unfortunately, the team’s options for legal redress are limited.
Current Comcast subscribers should care about the merger, too.
Comcast has lost subscribers during the recent recession. This month, rates for both internet and television delivery went up 5% for those no longer on a promotional contract. Some subscribers have been forced to cut back to a basic package only, and many have shifted their patronage to more affordable entertainment options like Hulu and Netflix. We can’t know for sure that Comcast will block or hike rates for internet services like these which they see as rivals; we can't know in advance that they’ll continue to raise rates for television customers —but we do know they’ve done both before.
Trail Blazers President Larry Miller and Senator Jeff Merkley each wrote to the FCC about their concerns. Miller’s July 2011 letter was summarized in The Columbian.
Sen. Merkley’s letter may be read in its entirety via The Oregonian (PDF).
What can we do? A first step might be to contact Sen. Merkley. Thank him for his support and share your frustration regarding the hijacking of Blazer programming.
Then report back to us on this blog.
US Senator Jeff Merkley - Portland Office
121 SW Salmon Street, Suite 1400, Portland, OR, 97204
(503) 326-3386 or fax: (503) 326-2900
Contact Sen Merkley webform