Comcast Not Attending FCC Hearing

    April 17, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

Pick a clever intro: Comcast won’t be tarred and feathered willingly; Comcast is taking its ball and going home; Comcast can’t stand the heat and won’t be going near the kitchen; Comcast won’t lie in the bed it’s made; Comcast will just hold its breath till it turns blue.

I like this one:

Comcast to FCC: Screw you guys; I’m going home.


And really, who could blame them? The last time they showed up to an FCC party, there were party fouls and everybody was mean to them. The next party, scheduled for today at Stanford probably won’t be any better, and bigger, meaner bullies are sure to show up.

Likely, too, they’ll ask better questions than Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos did last night. Better and tougher questions than FCC Chairman Kevin Martin asked at Harvard, too.

This time, at Stanford, all five commissioners will be present, as well as Left Coast Net Neutrality heavy hitter Lawrence Lessig. Comcast sends its regrets, but won’t be able to attend.

Recently, at the FCC’s hearing at Harvard, Comcast was the center of attention, with executive vice president David Cohen at the center of the center getting (lightly) grilled most of the day and asserting the FCC’s lack of authority to tell Comcast how to run its network. Much of that was overshadowed by Comcast stacking the audience in its favor by busing in employees and paying clueless streetwalkers to nap in the seats.

The outrage that followed was fairly intense. It makes sense, then, that the company would refuse to participate in any further public hangings. Just before declining to attend today’s hearing, Comcast attempted to defuse the Net Neutrality/peer-to-peer blocking issue by announcing a partnership with peer-to-peer company Pando to develop a bill of rights and responsibilities for consumers and internet service providers. 

Opponents are thus far unimpressed. "Comcast has lied consistently about the blocking to its own customers, the public, the press and the FCC," said Marvin Ammori, general counsel of Free Press, in a statement. "Consumers cannot trust Comcast or any other phone and cable company with the future of the Internet. Comcast has thumbed its nose at the existing consumer bill of rights — the FCC’s Internet policy statement guaranteeing access to all online content and services. Now facing unprecedented public, government and media scrutiny, Comcast is desperately trying to change the subject with a few over-hyped side conversations."

Ammori likened Comcast’s new plan to allowing a fox to guard the henhouse.

It will be interesting to see, even in Comcast’s absence, if the FCC and the Net Neutrality camps will look beyond the immediate threat of network manipulation to future networks where the traffic-shaping argument becomes more of a monetary policy than a congestion issue. The Grid, when it becomes available, could (and should) change the game