The Comcast and Time Warner merger debate has just kicked into overdrive. The Verge is reporting that Comcast had authored letters that local and state politicians were to submit to the FCC in support of the merger between Comcast and Time Warner. Some politicians were even reported to sign and send said email, word for word, straight to the FCC. These letters describe how Comcast was providing excellent service in their area and that they have engaged in civic activities and charities. These letters paint a flowery image that only corporate might, money, and writers can give.
It is clear by these tactics that Comcast is willing to pull out all the cards to make this deal happen. One such person to whom Comcast sent a letter was Oregon's Secretary of State, Kate Brown. They also contributed $10,000 to her campaign efforts. Oregon Secretary of State Brown's letter that was sent to the FCC is almost identical to the letter that Comcast sent her.
So why does all this matter? Well, ghostwriting lettered responses is nothing new. It is used by many different lobbying groups, charity groups, and political groups of all kinds to assist in ensuring that whatever it is that they wish to convey to the government is worded correctly and concisely. In all fairness, these people did choose to send the letters, and at least by the looks of it, Comcast in no way used coercion or any other nefarious means to urge these officials to send these letters to the FCC. What does matter is that these officials appear to be blindly following Comcast's word on this merger. If they need a corporation to write a letter, then they obviously lack the intelligence to understand something as complex and important as this merger. This merger will do more to damage consumers, and threaten Net Neutrality as a whole. Giving a corporation this much power and control over so many consumers is asinine at best. This stifles competition, kills innovation and can have huge repercussions for consumers when Comcast can simply redirect or block altogether certain websites. All you have to do is pony up the cash and your website will run faster, enable you to do more and reach more people than the other guy who cannot afford special privilege.
The FCC and the Department of Justice or DoJ are taking this merger seriously. These letters will certainly have an effect on the FCC and its decision. It is important to keep in mind that when one company owns so much of one thing (this merger will give them access to almost 2/3 of consumers) they get to set the rules. It is no secret that Comcast is against Net Neutrality. The ability to make "toll roads" on the internet to the highest bidder will provide a huge cash cow for Comcast to milk. The only real competition to this merger would be Verizon FIOS. No competition, no need to worry about price, speeds, or anything else as the American consumer would have few, if any, alternatives. I guess freedom of choice in the United States of America is not important to some officials. The FCC operates outside most government control. They have the ability to choose to allow this merger or to prevent it. Comcast is spending lots of money and apparently acquiring politicians to ensure this deal passes.
I am not writing this to bash Comcast. Comcast has done a lot to progress high-speed internet and entertainment services across the country. They do give to various charities and engage in civic events to help their communities. They employ thousands of people in this country and provide services to those who need them at low cost (if you qualify). What I am saying is that we need competition. Competition spurs innovation, keeps prices in check, and keeps the internet open and free for everyone to enjoy. Perhaps Comcast would do well to stop thinking of the bottom line and think of their customers and the internet and entertainment sector as a whole. There is plenty of room to make money while keeping the flow of traffic equal for everyone. Let's hope the FCC will at least see things this way and keep the highway open. What are your thoughts? Were these dirty tactics by Comcast or just smart business? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.