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NY Times Notices $10 Comcast Broadband is Kind of a PR Stunt
In-School Advertising Masquerading as Altruism
by Karl Bode 02:38PM Tuesday Jan 22 2013
To get their acquisition of NBC approved, Comcast proposed a condition requiring they offer $10 1.5 Mbps broadband to low income homes (dubbed "Internet Essentials"). As we pointed out when the program first surfaced, Comcast proposed this condition because once potential applicants jump through a number of hoops, Comcast knew that very few low income families would actually qualify.

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Ultimately, Comcast was forced to expand availability of the program and boost the speed to 3 Mbps, but only after some people in Philly took to the street in protest over the plan's intentional exclusions.

Despite considerable complaints by those Comcast claims to be helping, Comcast has received oceans of positive press in cities around the country for the program. Press events held around the country (like with Rahm Emanuel in Chicago) have helped paint Comcast as an altruistic saint, utterly concerned with the nation's downtrodden. Comcast has enjoyed more than a dozen such events in the last year.

It took a few years, but the New York Times this week almost notices that the program is a glorified, massive Comcast in school advertising campaign with a coat of altruistic paint. The focus of the regulator-bait program, the Times almost-but-not-quite ferrets out, is advertising the Comcast brand in churches and schools:
quote:
...as the program gains popularity, the company has come under criticism, accused of overreaching in its interactions with local communities — handing out brochures with the company logo during parent-teacher nights at public schools, for instance, or enlisting teachers and pastors to spread the word to students and congregations.
Times reporter Amy Chozik seems to pull her punches, failing to note that the shortcomings of Comcast's plan actually resulted in the people in Philadelphia protesting in the street, or that a significant amount of low-income families quite intentionally don't qualify for the plan by design.

As the Washington Post noted last fall, this was a program that had been shelved since 2009, pulled out last year simply to get approval for Comcast's controversial acquisition of NBC. It's simply an evolution of the cable industry's Adoption Plus campaign, which also was aimed at getting cable marketing into schools. After a few years of handing out flyers, the program goes away, the promos all go away, and Comcast has a larger number of customers thanks to an in-school and in-church marketing program.

That's not a shabby price to pay in exchange for the monumental $30 billion acquisition of NBC.

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

Someone is not happy, even with a good deal

Even when they are getting a great deal, and no pressure to upgrade, the community activists are still upset that the deal isn't being funneled thru some gov't agency, which would of course increase the cost geometrically.
--
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasury.

PaulHikeS2

join:2003-03-06
Manchester, NH
Reviews:
·Comcast

1 recommendation

Re: Someone is not happy, even with a good deal

And remember, you cannot owe money for services previously provided. And there is an income requirement. And it doesn't come with free HBO.

So little waste and graft involved when provided by a private company. No wonder the community activists are upset!
--
Jay: What the @#$% is the internet???

Hodo Kanjo

@184.105.146.x

the community activists are still upset that the deal isn't being funneled thru some gov't agency

That's not mentioned anywhere. How about no program at all? Especially if all this involves is a fairly pathetic cut-rate limited-time promotion in exchange for acquiring NBC and the right to market to CHILDREN in SCHOOLS.

Some of you folks are fighting imaginary pro-government demons in your heads.

Bill Neilson
Premium
join:2009-07-08
Arlington, VA
Where are the activists mad that it isn't going through the government?

Do you spend all day crying about the Governments while enjoying a loan from them, business credits from them, etc....

Or is this another "I HATE THE GOVERNMENT" posts where you want them OUT OF YOUR LIFE

Oh, except the laws you want banned.

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

1 edit

Re: Someone is not happy, even with a good deal

said by Hodo Kanjo :

the community activists are still upset that the deal isn't being funneled thru some gov't agency

That's not mentioned anywhere. Some of you folks are fighting imaginary pro-government demons in your heads.

said by Bill Neilson:

Where are the activists mad that it isn't going through the government?

From the link quoted in the BBR story above:
»www.nytimes.com/2013/01/21/busin···all&_r=0

But many advocacy groups argue that broadband has become so crucial to success in school and the work force that it should be treated like a public utility paid in part by government subsidies.

Broadband service is “a natural monopoly” controlled by a handful of private companies, said Mr. Karaganis, of the American Assembly, adding that Internet Essentials gave Comcast access to people in community settings where it could use the lure of low prices to tap into a new consumer base.

In September the F.C.C. helped set up Connect2Compete...Connect2Compete serves as a middleman between communities and companies. That setup is intended to create a buffer between corporations and communities to avoid the kind of murky territory that private-public partnerships like Internet Essentials must navigate, said Zach Leverenz, chief executive at Connect2Compete. “It’s important to have a trusted intermediary,” he said.

--
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasury.

Hodo Kanjo

@184.105.146.x

Re: Someone is not happy, even with a good deal

One guy saying that broadband should be a utility does not equal anger and insistence that this Comcast program should be handled by government. Nice attempt to divert people's attention from the fact this is kind of a crap program advertising to CHILDREN though.

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

Re: Someone is not happy, even with a good deal

said by Hodo Kanjo :

One guy saying that broadband should be a utility does not equal anger and insistence that this Comcast program should be handled by government. Nice attempt to divert people's attention from the fact this is kind of a crap program advertising to CHILDREN though.

Did you miss this part?
quote:
But many advocacy groups argue
Or did the reporter have to list them all to make you satisfied?
--
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasury.

PaulHikeS2

join:2003-03-06
Manchester, NH

1 recommendation

Re: Someone is not happy, even with a good deal

Just another knee jerk reaction from someone so high and mighty that they cannot bother to even read an entire post correctly, much less the article referenced.
--
Jay: What the @#$% is the internet???

IowaCowboy
Iowa native
Premium
join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Verizon Broadban..
·Comcast

2 recommendations

Abuse of social service programs

One of the local NBC stations here (WWLP) took their I-team with hidden cameras to a local public assistance office and saw people who claimed they were in need of government assistance coming in holding designer handbags, wearing fancy jewelry, and pull up in cars that most of us could not afford. The same station likes to target government waste and fraud on their I-team segment that they run from time to time on the 6PM news.

Comcast is merely trying to avoid potential abuse of their $10 broadband offering, especially with the fact that they are doing so out of charity and not getting any government funding to do so. If they can afford those luxury cars, then Comcast wants them to pay full price for their services. In my opinion, Comcast is just trying to protect their revenue by having all this red tape.

Toropop

join:2001-11-11
Vancouver, WA

Re: Abuse of social service programs

I suppose vets with PTSD, the person with failed kidneys, schizophrenics, or the guy with a fused spine aren't disabled because we can't see it, huh?

Implying that a person isn't needy because they have a designer bag, expensive jewelry, or a fancy car, is ridiculous and infuriating.

The point is, just because there are visual cues that "say" one thing doesn't mean that they're necessarily conveying the whole story.

Common scenario: Recently divorced, partner destroyed credit, has a five-year-old "luxury" car, lost their home in the divorce, but was left with a kid or two, and is maybe unemployed now. Sure, they have a Louis Vuitton bag, a newer cell phone, an expensive wedding set (or not), a retirement fund, and a life insurance policy. Can't sell the car because they still owe money on it, don't have the credit to even get a used Yugo, and need it to find a job and shuttle the kid(s). Ever tried selling a Louis Vuitton and expect to live on that money?

I could go on and on about this absurdity of this post. Everyone thinks social services are a waste and easily abused. That is, until the person complaining about the waste actually needs it for themselves (Hello? Unemployment benefits, anyone?).

Finally, to punctuate the point, have you ever tried to qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program? It is worse than expecting to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance on your first attempt. The process is so invasive that most who qualify don't even bother applying. The same is true for public assistance. Nearly 100M people are eligible for some form of assistance, but only 20-23% of those know it and are receiving benefits.

People who make uninformed comments like this are generally the same ones who live in states that receive more federal assistance than they contribute. It doesn't look like you're in one of them, but Iowa is.

Joey1973

@verizon.net

What we all know...

yes, it's a PR stunt. But, it's also a government-mandated PR stunt (after the big govt. FAIL of allowing the NBC-Universal acquisition in the first place).

If Comcast had any true altruism in its corporate body, then they'd offer a "free" tier like Google Fiber's 5mbps: you pay for the cost of an install and you get free access after that at a reasonable broadband speed--which we'll say here is 3mbps [as opposed to Google's 5mbps]. OK, everyone who thinks Comcast will go for this, raise your hands... anyone? ...anyone? [Bueller?]

PRguy

@verizon.net

Re: What we all know...

said by Joey1973 :

If Comcast had any true altruism in its corporate body, then they'd offer a "free" tier like Google Fiber's 5mbps: you pay for the cost of an install and you get free access after that at a reasonable broadband speed--which we'll say here is 3mbps [as opposed to Google's 5mbps]. OK, everyone who thinks Comcast will go for this, raise your hands... anyone? ...anyone? [Bueller?]

Are you serious? Google fiber is the biggest publicity stunt of all. They only need to do this in a few neighborhoods.

Cthen

join:2004-08-01
Detroit, MI

Amazing

They are just now noticing this?
MrBungle87

join:2013-01-18
Durham, NC
Reviews:
·Frontier Communi..
·Time Warner Cable

Comcast

There's very little substantive difference between private and government when it comes to natural monopolies like broadband. Comcast could charge whatever they want, but $10 a month sounds appealing (I guess) for low income people and their poverty pimps. The fact remains it's just another revenue stream for Comcast, and sending propaganda about their services home with school kids is really just unconscionable behavior.

Supply and demand: make the service available, advertise it like you would anything else, and people who want/need it will sign up. Besides, "low income" people always seem to find a way to afford a smartphone (especially in a place like Chicago), so they're probably either tethering or using their phone Internet as their primary Internet source to begin with.
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH

Pretty restrictive

I get the whole thing about not owning Comcast money, as they shouldn't be providing service to deadbeats who don't pay their bill, BUT the rest of the restrictions are rather onerous. They should make it more widely available before touting how great they are being. Especially about have service before. It's almost like they want people to cancel for 90 days to qualify for this. Why not collect the extra $30 in the mean time? Heck, they should get better with offering budget tiers for everyone, not at $10, but maybe $25, to compete with DSL. I'll be sticking with Blast!, but I could see old people wanting a 3mbps service for $20 or $25.

This is also one place I'd support putting a 5GB cap, as long as there are no overages (just throttle), as just doing basic stuff online doesn't use much bandwidth. That would also keep the abuse of a program like this down.

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK

Comcast is using it to max advantage while placing obstacles

The real issue is how they have policies and procedures in place that are designed by their very nature to either discourage or slow adoption of the plan.

It's a good plan for people who currently very short on money and do without high speed internet and Cable TV.... but how many households currently fall into that category?

If they removed many of the restrictions to qualify I think it would come across is more genuine.
--
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini