Comcast sings the same old tune in LA

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

You weren’t expecting a new act, were you?

It doesn’t look like any progress was made at a California Public Utilities Commission-supervised meeting between Comcast, its would-be mega-merger allies and opponents of the deal in Los Angeles on Tuesday. I was thinking of flying down to LA to see the show, but after reading the news accounts of it, I’m glad I didn’t. It seems – judging from those reports, anyway – that it was more of the same old, same old.

According to a story in the LA Times, two CPUC commissioners “heard from more than 140 outspoken advocates, many arguing the combination of the nation’s two largest cable companies would hurt California consumers”. But opponents were also joined by “representatives of dozens of community groups [who] voiced support for Comcast’s deal”.

It’s a familiar show. Comcast doesn’t have any problem turning out a crowd made up of local politicians and people from organisations that depend on its, um, charitable donations. Nor is there any shortage of opponents.

Comcast backed up its case with a blog post on Tuesday that tried to paint itself as the economic engine that drives the Southland…

In Los Angeles, we’re in the midst of investing over $1 billion in our West Coast businesses and our 25-year plan is expected to create more than 30,000 jobs and generate some $1.9 billion every year for the local economy, reinforcing our role as a major economic engine in the region.

Unfortunately for Comcast, no one in LA gives a damn about a 25-year plan. The Writers Guild of America West is one of the loudest critics of the deal, and isn’t impressed by Comcast’s promise of a better tomorrow

This merger will have troubling consequences for writers and others in the entertainment industry because it will give one company too much power over content. This will affect how much and what type of content is made, which could have negative implications for employment in one of this region’s most important industries.

Commissioners Carla Peterman and Catherine Sandoval convened the meeting and sat through all two and half hours of it, but “declined to disclose their positions”, according to the Times.