FCC wasting time and taxpayer money on Comcast

FCC wasting time and taxpayer money on Comcast

Summary: I have to wonder if funding a bureaucracy like the FCC, which first must approve a merger like Comcast's and then levies minor fines for minor infractions while making grand claims and paying out bureaucrats' salaries, is taxpayer money well spent.

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Am I a bad person for thinking the FCC's $800,000 fine levied against Comcast is ridiculous?

When Comcast merged with NBCUniversal, the FCC had to approve the deal. A condition of the deal was that Comcast offer $49.95 a month internet-only service. Wow, great price. Turns out, Comcast was not very good about telling people about this option.  And, because people in general are not aware enough to ask, lots of people bought expensive cable packages on the assumption that it was the only way to get internet, or something like that.

So, now Comcast has to pay $800,000, which is nothing to Comcast, and continue to offer the not-a-bargain $49.95 a month internet-only package.

Here's the funny part: the FCC thinks this is the greatest US victory since World War II:

"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."

Once again, I have to wonder if funding a bureaucracy like the FCC, which first must approve a merger like Comcast's and then levies minor fines for minor infractions while making grand claims and paying out bureaucrats' salaries, is taxpayer money well spent. When you see those IRS deductions on your paycheck, this is what they're paying for.

Topics: Government US, Government

Steven Shaw

About Steven Shaw

Steven Shaw used to be a litigation attorney at Cravath, Swaine &gMoore, a New York law firm, and is now the online community managergfor eGullet.org and the Director of New Media Studies at thegInternational Culinary Center.

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6 comments
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  • Comcast should pay all the users

    The excess money they charged at 20% compounded interest. Then they might learn something.
    Uralbas
  • Fine them and

    drop that net only price to $20/mo with a nation-wide marketing campaign promoting it. I think that would be more likely to "teach the cable companies a lesson." It might mean more families could afford broadband, and perhaps even foster some real competition on prices and options.
    Daughain
  • So...

    ...what sorts of antitrust enforcement do you think appropriate? I figure that if you were in favor of repeal, you'd say so, but I could be wrong.
    John L. Ries
  • Again, why stop with one incompetent organisation

    It seems to me that most watchdogs are without intellect, teeth and balls.

    Scandals are sweeping the UK banking sector again this week with revelations that Barclays (and perhaps others) have fixed the Libor interest rate (Barclays, who succeeded in a monumental tax evasive structuring of their business affairs.). Nat West have had a catastrophic IT failure.

    Yet we have the FSA. Barclays have been fined 229M for their latest infraction. My points are:

    1. The bodies who supposedly police global corporations do not have the intellect and resources to do so effectively. They need [b]more[/b] money initially.

    2. They need wider powers, not the constraints of the current cumbersome legal system.

    3. They need to grow some. A consumer pirating trivia is faced with fines wiping out his entire wealth or '3 strikes and your out' removing his Internet access. Yet banks are bailed out when they fail and continue to wreak havoc.

    I think Barclays, for example, should be shut down completely. (Or rather its entire senior management fired and its assets and lower level staff shared out amongst the other banks. The others not involved in the conspiracy that is.)

    What we don't need is more lawyers and such working out whether the closure is legal or people have been unfairly dismissed - just lock the senior management in prison for 5 years and see if the banking sector starts to get the message.

    In the case of COMCAST then - let's make the fine $8,000,000,000 - and the VP of Communications loses spends a year in jail before losing his job.
    jacksonjohn
  • taxpayer money wasted as subsidy to corps that offshore

    Is a lot more in terms of $$$$$$$$... yet nobody talks about that anti-free market practice...
    HypnoToad72
  • Missing the underlying cause

    Most of the bureaucrats in the FCC are looking forward to nice executive positions in the telecom industry after a few years as a "regulator". They don't take bribes (much), but they build relationships by doing favors, then get cushy offices and consulting fees as payback later. This is the famous "revolving door" in Washington and it works wonders if you can get on the gravy train at the FDA, FCC, FAA, or SEC.
    terry flores