Screw results, motives matter

by on January 21, 2013 · 5 comments

Mixed Response to Comcast in Expanding Net Access.” That’s a headline in The New York Times today.

What an utterly disgraceful hit piece. According to the article, participants in Comcast’s broadband program for low income families, as well as school administrators and city officials, are happy with the program. So what’s this “mixed response”?

>But 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.

That’s the sixth paragraph, and its passive voice foreshadows that we’re never told who is criticizing nor what exactly is the critique (besides, perhaps, the fact that Comcast is a for-profit business and that it is advertising its low-income program). The gall! How dare Comcast inform people about a product offering! And these teachers and pastors being “enlisted” by Comcast, do they really think the program might benefit their students and congregations?

Then there’s this:

>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.

Now, I really appreciate and respect Joe Karaganis’s research on copyright, but he needs to look up the definition of “natural monopoly.” If Comcast is so powerful, it’s kind of odd that they need to use “the lure of low prices to tap into a new consumer base.” Oh, the lure! Kvorka! What this really shows is how price discrimination can serve to [benefit lower-income folks]( (as well as those who don’t value broadband very much).

No, Comcast isn’t doing anything “out of the goodness of their hearts,” but why should that matter when what they’re doing is benefitting everyone involved?

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