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FCC Fines Comcast for Violating NBC Merger Condition
Hid Standalone Broadband Option From Consumers
by Karl Bode 06:02PM Wednesday Jun 27 2012
The FCC today announced that Comcast violated conditions attached to their acquisition of NBC Universal, and will have to pay a $800,000 fine. Specifically, the merger condition in question required that Comcast offer "a reasonably priced broadband option to consumers who do not receive their cable service from the company." According to a statement issued by the the agency, the FCC acted after they were informed the company made the option hard to find and sign up for.

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As part of the settlement, Comcast must offer standalone service of at least 6 mbps at a price no greater than $49.95 for three years. The agency also required that Comcast avoid raising the price of that tier for at least one year -- and that they "visibly offer and actively market" the standalone option.

While it's nice that the FCC is actually enforcing a merger condition (they have a long history of just ignoring violations of conditions they didn't like), $50 for 6 Mbps service isn't exactly a revolutionary bargain, and Comcast makes $800,000 in about the amount of time it took to write this sentence. Still, this is the first time the FCC has ever required that anyone extend a condition -- so the gesture is bold in the larger (and quite pathetic) context.

"Today’s action demonstrates that compliance with Commission orders is not optional," said FCC boss Julius Genachowski in a statement. "The remedies announced today will benefit consumers and foster competition, including from online video and satellite providers, by ensuring that standalone broadband is truly available in Comcast’s service areas."

Comcast has taken heat for another merger requirement: that they provide discount $10 broadband to low-income residents for three years. Low income advocacy groups have complained the offer is hard to find, hard to sign up for, and comes with numerous restrictions designed intentionally to rule out most of the applicants. The FCC did approve of Comcast's behavior in that instance, and used the idea as a template for other mergers, including Centurylink's recent acquisition of Savvis.

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FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Surprised Comcast agreed & didn't sue

I am surprised Comcast agreed & didn't sue. Probably cheaper to do a deal with FCC than fight it in the courts.

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

Re: And in 3,2,1 the Comcast lawsuit is filed

Comcast has agreed to the settlement, so no.

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness

Re: Surprised Comcast agreed & didn't sue

said by FFH:

I am surprised Comcast agreed & didn't sue. Probably cheaper to do a deal with FCC than fight it in the courts.

Why sue when they can ignore this order like they did the last one?

Also what standing would they have? They AGREED to conditions they violated these conditions.

pnh102
Reptiles Are Cuddly And Pretty
Premium
join:2002-05-02
Mount Airy, MD
said by FFH:

I am surprised Comcast agreed & didn't sue. Probably cheaper to do a deal with FCC than fight it in the courts.

$800k for Comcast is pocket change. It would be a bad decision financially to fight it when you can just pay a small fine and be absolved of any bad behavior instead.

If the FCC was serious, it would add quite a few zeros to that fine.
--
Romney 2012 - Put an adult in charge.

Rob
In Deo speramus.
Premium
join:2001-08-25
Kendall, FL
kudos:3

The FCC Should Be Fined..

The FCC is such a joke.
25139889

join:2011-10-25
Toledo, OH

Re: The FCC Should Be Fined..

that is why they're always in court getting sued for their illegal rules. Right now they're only doing this due to the one in charge is up for re-election again. They gotta make the voters happy. otherwise you can bet that they wouldn't be doing a damn thing.

nothing00

join:2001-06-10
Centereach, NY

Re: The FCC Should Be Fined..

"they gotta make the voters happy"

What dystopian realm do you come from? That's exactly what should be happening in a democracy.
MrHappy316
Wish I had my tank
Premium
join:2003-01-02
Monterey, CA

Internet only folks dropping TV service in 3 , 2 , 1

Watch the exodus begin for the video side, maybe now we can see some real numbers on cord cutters.
25139889

join:2011-10-25
Toledo, OH

Re: Internet only folks dropping TV service in 3 , 2 , 1

such a myth. Look at the numbers from all companies. They clearly show that people are just moving to get a cheaper price. Cord Cutting is nothing but what bloggers/wanna be news reporters dreamed up myth to get readers.

skuv

@rr.com
It has been shown that the number of "cord cutters" is so low that it is statistically insignificant. And is mostly people that are moving in together to save money, moving back in with parents to save money, or just plain cancelling service to save money.

It is not the mass exodus to Internet delivered video as they are trying to make it out to be.
nasadude

join:2001-10-05
Rockville, MD
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

hahahahahahaha

$800,000; that's funny.

60 min/hr x 24 hrs x 365 = 525,600 min.

comcast fy11 revenue = $55.8B

revenue per minute = $106,000

it will take them less than 10 minutes of revenue to pay the fine; I'm sure management is very distressed.
25139889

join:2011-10-25
Toledo, OH

Re: hahahahahahaha

the same as with the half ass fines the Justice Department and others give Wal-mart.
Fishie

join:2003-01-14
Riverside, CA

Raise Standalone Price to $49.95

I can see Comcast actually raising their standalone 6Mbps price to $49.95 while getting rid of any promotional price that is lower and telling consumers, "The price and speed was ordered by the FCC. If you don't like it, take it up with the government." In fact, I can see them limiting customers who only want broadband to a 6Mbps tier as well.
25139889

join:2011-10-25
Toledo, OH

Re: Raise Standalone Price to $49.95

well it would be what the so called FCC would "require". So it would prove the FCC stuck its foot in its mouth and means another reason why Congress needs to redo the damn "agency" and put them back to what they were in charge of before.
ExoticFish

join:2008-08-31
Stuarts Draft, VA
said by Fishie:

\ I can see them limiting customers who only want broadband to a 6Mbps tier as well.

I doubt that VERY much.
--
»www.VAJeeps.com
ssavoy
Premium
join:2007-08-16
Dallas, PA

Already have it

How many areas don't they have 6mbps service in? I've seen it advertised on their website for nearly a year now in my area - 6mbps for $49.95/month.
covfam

join:2012-03-05
Black River Falls, WI

Re: Already have it

only an $800,000 fine? thats what 3 months salary for the CEO? how is that a punishment?

tshirt
Premium,MVM
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:4
Reviews:
·Comcast

Worse than a class action lawyer...

.... who would have at least gotten members of the class discount coupons for service.
In this case the gov't gets the lump sum AND we paid to pursue the case
The stupidity in DC is spreading like zombies!
25139889

join:2011-10-25
Toledo, OH

Re: Worse than a class action lawyer...

and that's if Comcast pays it. After all who is the FCC to enforce the fine? They are no legal body when it comes to enforcing fines they'll have to go to court -which only costs the tax payers more money and allows Comcast a chance to get out of it.

tshirt
Premium,MVM
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:4

Re: Worse than a class action lawyer...

they already agreed, and $800k is less then the potential PR hit, let alone the legal dept's $pin.
25139889

join:2011-10-25
Toledo, OH

Re: Worse than a class action lawyer...

they can agree to it all they want. The thing is who is the FCC to enforce the fine? They have no legal power. That's the thing. And Comcast's legal department is more than 70% on staff anyway- can we say salary at that point. the FCC is the one that would be spending more on the tax payer.

tshirt
Premium,MVM
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:4
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: Worse than a class action lawyer...

I think a court (if it came to that) would look poorly on a company walking away from a signed consent agreement with the FCC.
CC could pay the fine, and continue to do something similar, while the FCC would have to investigate AGAIN from square one.
However I doubt CC would agree unless they intended to do at least the minimum required to comply.
beyond that the 3 years (or whatever they agreed to) is rapidly racing by, soon we will see what it is they WANT to do.
OCP
Premium
join:2004-10-11
USA

Fine

If Comcast doesn't pay, they can probably be fined again.
25139889

join:2011-10-25
Toledo, OH

Re: Fine

and the FCC has now power to enforce it.
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3

Re: Fine

said by 25139889:

and the FCC has now power to enforce it.

I guess congress giving them the power to enforce means nothing to you then... huh?

newview
Ex .. Ex .. Exactly
Premium
join:2001-10-01
Parsonsburg, MD
kudos:1

Isn't it obvious by now?

Comcast does what they damn well please, and to hell with what their customers, the FCC or anyone else thinks.
25139889

join:2011-10-25
Toledo, OH

Re: Isn't it obvious by now?

just like any company. And they know the FCC has no legal power and only makes "rules" and now laws. They have enough money to buy the next Chairman. And the FCC is doing this to make their Chief look good for November.

pclover

join:2008-08-02
Santa Cruz, CA

Re: Isn't it obvious by now?

What a joke
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3
said by newview:

Comcast does what they damn well please, and to hell with what their customers, the FCC or anyone else thinks.

I will agree with this. I wonder if Karl missed something, or maybe I didn't see it here, when Comcast decided that a modem rental was now a "fee".. and thus Comcast blatantly disregarded business class contracts everywhere and decided to start charging modem rental "fees" even thought contracts specifically stated "no charge" such as mine all did.

When talking to customer lack-of-service people, it was rather funny to hear them ALL say, when asked why I'm being charged, "we decided as a company.." and that's where I'd cut them off and say "stop with the talking point memo crap..." and then had to educate them on what a contract was. They'd try to argue that if I read the contract it allows them to adjust prices of "fees" at anytime during the contract period. I think they just forget that when reading the contract, "fees" refer specifically to those charged by government mandate. However, again, they decided to classify a modem rental as a "fee".. It was funny talking to these un-educated idiots that if a modem rental is a "fee" then why isn't the static-ip charge also "a fee".. or the cost to use the internet, too, was "a fee"..

I swear, total ass-hats. They do just do what ever they want, when they want, and don't give a crap. It's say that Comcast chooses to go down the same path as companies such as, say, BEST BUY, who is currently feeling the pain of their decisions.

jhacker

join:2001-12-11
Peoria, IL
Reviews:
·Comcast

The greased palm theory

Comcast will just pay their lobbyists $100K to whine to Congress that the fine is unfair. In response, the Congressman will turn around and tell the FCC that they have to retract the fine, and the Congressman will get a few more bucks from Comcast for their campaign fund. See how that works?

dvd536
as Mr. Pink as they come
Premium
join:2001-04-27
Phoenix, AZ
kudos:4

800k

Guess who's going to be seeing a new or increased unfee on their bills?
mark_y_k

join:2004-06-30
Pound, VA

Well

I've had Adelphia/Comcast internet for 7 years I get at least 8mb download and I've seen my speed as high as 18MB download and I just pay $50.00 not counting my Modem rental