Yesterday’s City Council hearing showed itself to be merely an opportunity for our elected supplicants to heap praise on local corporations. (“It’s nice to be Comcast,” Michael Currie Schaffer writes in the Inquirer.) But our side got in a few good shots. Here’s my testimony.
Councilman Nutter asked some pointed questions, including about Comcast’s fulfillment of its minority- and women-owned business requirements. Considering how intently Council focused on that issue with Earthlink, it was revealing to see how little they pressured Comcast on it.
A highlight of the hearing came when Councilman Nutter was asking the Comcast spokespeople about the Comcast loophole. The Comcast guy referred to it as an “investment” and a “competitive advantage” to which Nutter responded, “It’s all about the money, isn’t it?” And after a pause added, “Say yes.”
The Daily News saw Monday’s vote as an indication that we are living in the “Comcast Era,” but hopefully suggested, “Maybe now we’ll finally get Public-Access TV.” “Reasonably stable rates, and alternative access to televised Sixers and Flyers games, would probably help customers more appreciate the Comcast Era,” the opinion piece concluded.
In any event, I don’t think anyone really expected the ordinance to be held up. What Comcast wants from City Council, Comcast gets. And no one on that committee or in the Mayor’s office is going to let Nutter take credit for anything as wonderful as public access or closing the Comcast loophole.
At least Comcast has to answer some questions, even if they’re from friendly sources. If you want to know why the Comcast comparison of Comcast SportsNet to DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket is a bunch of bullshit, check out Phillyville (though Ruby Legs and I have a different take on the state franchising bill).
Following all of our yapping, the committee passed ordinance 060440 transferring the Area II franchise from Time Warner to Comcast by a unanimous voice vote. It will be read into the record at the City Council meeting on Thursday and then, one assumes, passed at the following meeting next Thursday, the 15th.