Despite a couple of phone calls, no media outlets have covered the relaunch of freetheflyers.com yet, but the Comcast monopoly has been making its own headlines.
Comcast customers pursuing antitrust charges against the cable giant won a significant victory last week in federal court. The customers claim Comcast made deals with AT&T and Adelphia to establish monopolies in cable television and Internet service in Chicago and Philadelphia.
Comcast argued that the suit should be tossed out. It pointed to the many legislators in City Councils and federal agencies like the FCC and FTC who had approved their deals.
The judge didn’t seem to care what those branches had said. The consumers have a direct interest in the matter and they make a reasonable claim to have been harmed by the higher prices that resulted from the monopolies.
Yesterday, Comcast gave us a perfect demonstration of why all of this matters. They plan to use their consolidated ownership of event venues in Philadelphia to push out TicketMaster.
Now that the TicketMaster contract has run out on the Comcast-owned venues, Comcast will start using its own ticketing service, New Era Tickets. New Era expects to double its sales from 6 million a year to 12 million a year. They’ll use that momentum to pursue contracts with other city venues as those contracts expire, squeezing out TicketMaster. (Not that I have any love for TicketMaster.)
Comcast says it does not plan to sell the tickets for any less, but it will add various perks. (This is its same explanation for raising cable rates: they keep adding new perks to your cable service so now it’s worth more.) Like Verizon trying to pocket the federal surcharge on their DSL service, this is another example of vertically integrated media corporations passing the savings right on to themselves.
Comcast will also use its local cable television monopoly as leverage against New Era Tickets competitors. Comcast will market special deals like exclusive access to advance tickets to select subscribers. In other words, if the Flyers make the playoffs or your favorite band comes to town, you’ll have to be a Comcast subscriber to see it live.
Can we get an Attorney General up in here? With all due respect to Philly toughness, Elliot Spitzer would rip the underpants off these guys if they tried that in New York. That’s why Comcast would never leave this city, even if the state didn’t pay for its headquarters. It owns us.
Free The Flyers! Release the Sixers! Let my Phillies go! That and an antitrust suit might be a start…