Motley Fool

Comcast Merger Moves Forward, But Cable Giant Still Complains

By Anders Bylund

February 24, 2015

Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA  ) is infamous for its callous customer service attitude, for its monopolistic business practices, and for what some might call a loose commitment to promises made in merger proceedings. For these reasons, and many others, Comcast is known as the most hated company in America.

Just when you thought the cable giant couldn't sink any lower in the eyes of American consumers, Comcast pulls another, well, Comcastic move. The company just scored a crucial regulatory approval of its proposed merger with cable rival Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC  ) . Alas, the win wasn't enough to turn Comcast's frown upside down. Instead, Comcast is complaining that the approval came with too many "unrealistic" conditions.

The merger action in question is a proposed approval of Comcast's Time Warner deal from the Public Utilities Commission of California. Administrative Law Judge David Gamson granted permission to transfer business assets and licenses between Comcast, Time Warner, and Charter (NASDAQ: CHTR  ) in order to close the Californian portion of the $45 billion megadeal.


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The Consumerist

Comcast Doesn’t Want To Improve Its ‘Internet Essentials’ Program For Low-Income Consumers

By Chris Morran

February 16, 2015

With Comcast’s $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable nearing the finish line, you’d think the company would be willing to do something as insignificant as make promises to improve its broadband program for low-income users. You’d be wrong.

As part of its deal to acquire NBC Universal back in 2011, Comcast convinced regulators that it would create a broadband program for lower-income Americans to help them get online in a world where Internet access is increasingly important.

Since that program, dubbed Internet Essentials, launched, it’s been criticized by consumer advocates as little more than window-dressing that erects up too many barriers to entry and provides too few benefits for subscribers.

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Ars Technica

Comcast Gets a Merger Approval, But Objects to New Low-Income Requirements

California seeks more cheap Internet for the poor. Comcast says it's too hard.

By Jon Brodkin

Feb 14, 2015

California has tentatively approved Comcast's $45.2 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable, but Comcast isn't entirely happy because some of the conditions demanded by the state "create a more intrusive regulatory regime."

The proposed approval with conditions came yesterday from Public Utilities Commission Administrative Law Judge Karl Bemesderfer. Comcast Executive VP David Cohen quickly wrote a response criticizing Bemesderfer's proposed conditions.

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Proposed CPUC Decision Requires Major Expansion of Low-Cost Internet Program

For Immediate Release

Updated: February 16, 2015

Contact: Susan Walters, Senior Vice President
Office: 415-744-2385
Email: [email protected]

Proposed Decision of California Public Utilities Commission Administrative Law Judge Recommends Approval of Comcast-TWC Merger and Requires Major Expansion of Low-Cost Internet Program

Proposed CPUC decision requires Comcast to offer affordable Internet service to all low-income households, enroll 45% of eligible households in 2 years

San Francisco, CA – February 16, 2015 – The presiding Administrative Law Judge at the California Public Utilities Commission on Friday issued a proposed decision for approval of the merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, Inc. but requiring significant public interest conditions that were requested by the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), a non-profit organization dedicated to bridging the Digital Divide in California.  CETF urges the full Commission to approve the proposed decision with a yes vote on Thursday, March 26, 2015, after comments are received on the decision by parties.  Among the highlights:

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Bloomberg News

Does Comcast Really Reach Out to Poor People?

By Todd Shields

December 22, 2014

As he defended Comcast Corp.’s latest proposed acquisition before U.S. senators, a top company executive showcased the cable provider’s cut-rate broadband service for poor families.

“An amazing success,” David Cohen, who handles government affairs for Comcast, said during an April hearing on his company’s $45.2 billion bid for Time Warner Cable Inc.

Comcast is dangling the promise of expanding the program -- and helping to close the digital divide that sees one in four U.S. households without an Internet connection -- as U.S. regulators decide whether to allow the merger.


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Tell the FCC Make the Internet Affordable for Everyone!

If you know somebody, a friend, a family member or even yourself, who does not have high-speed Internet at home, here are options for cheap Internet!

Here’s how you can obtain low-cost Internet service for low-income families and individuals, including affordable Internet for yourself and your own family. 

EveryoneOn is a national non-profit working to eliminate the digital divide by making affordable Internet, low-cost computers, and free digital literacy courses available unconnected U.S. residents.  Click read more to learn your options.

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The Washington Post

Why Comcast’s $10 A Month Internet Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

By Cecilia Kang

May 9, 2014

Washington Post

PHILADELPHIA — As Comcast tries to win over regulators reviewing its controversial merger with Time Warner Cable, its well-honed lobbying campaign often highlights a company program offering Internet to low-income families.

In the Washington area, ads promoting the program, known as Internet Essentials, plaster the Metro and flood radio waves during the morning commute. In a recent video on Comcast’s Web site, NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell touted the benefits of the program, which offers Internet for $10 a month to families whose children qualify for free or reduced-price lunches at school.

“Whether you’re researching George Washington for a history paper or searching for a job, Internet access is essential,” Mitchell said.

But many low-income consumers say accessing Comcast’s program isn’t so easy.

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The Sacramento Bee

Viewpoints: Make Sure Comcast Provides Low-Income Internet Access As Part Of Merger

By Delaine Eastin - Special To The Bee

Sep. 14, 2014

The digital divide remains as wide as the Central Valley for the poorest California children, but not because of a lack of interest among our low-income families. After a short news item aired on Spanish-language TV recently about an affordable home Internet offer, 2,700 calls jammed the call center – on a Friday night.

As a lifelong educator, I know access to affordable technology at school and at home is the great equalizer. Yet, with 25 percent of Californians lacking high-speed Internet access at home, we are a long way from granting equality to low-income Californians who remain stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide.

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Ars Technica

Comcast’s Internet For The Poor Too Hard To Sign Up For, Advocates Say

FCC urged to boost Comcast's commitments in Time Warner Cable merger.

by Jon Brodkin

July 23 2014

A California nonprofit says that a Comcast Internet service program for poor people is too difficult to sign up for, resulting in just 11 percent of eligible households in the state getting service.

Comcast had to create the $10-per-month Internet Essentials program in order to secure approval of its acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2011. About 300,000 households containing 1.2 million people nationwide have gotten cheap Internet service as a result, but the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) complains that the signup process is riddled with problems, a charge Comcast denies.

Comcast COO admits: "Retention agent... did a lot of what we trained him to do."

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