Philly Blunt

Freelance writer. Editor and web-video producer. Former Atlantic City Press and Philadelphia Weekly staff writer, City Paper managing editor/columnist and Dougherty for Senate campaign manager. Comments welcome here or emailed to brianhickey9 [at] hotmail. Now on: Facebook (Brian Hickey, in Philly) Twitter at Flickr at Be sure to check out Hickey on Divorce Court:

12 April 2009

Welcome to Comcast's Hypocr-land. May They Take Your Order?

Someone explained to me the other day how Rendell-brain-dude/Comcast-pusherman David L. Cohen is to blame for much of what started the ailing over at the Inquirer and Daily News. I'd get into it if that someone wasn't talking in a non-journalistic context, so let's just say that Cohen cleared the path for competition to the dailies to set themselves up for success and leave it at that. (Because He clearly did).
It made me think back to last week, when one of the dailies let Cohen hem and haw his way through a condemnation of the NFL Network's claims that Comcast wanted its customers to pay more than their $8,000-a-month bill to watch games on the league network.
It was kinda cute to see Comcast dust off a city power-broker to go all out for a free commercial, and all, but then he spewed that...

The NFL is the most sophisticated, lucrative, and powerful professional sports enterprise in the world, with a special exemption from antitrust laws that helps it maintain its monopoly on televised football. The NFL already makes more than $20 billion through long-term deals with ESPN, CBS, Fox, and NBC - more than the television-rights fees collected by the NBA, NHL, and NASCAR combined.
But the NFL wants more, and it's trying to use its enormous market power to force millions of our customers to pay for games they have always seen for free. (On top of that, it denies tens of millions of cable customers access to hundreds of games provided exclusively to DirecTV.)
Comcast currently makes NFL Network available on the dedicated sports and entertainment tier. We view this as the best and fairest way to provide NFL Network's expensive programming, because viewers who want to watch the channel can do so, while those who prefer not to aren't forced to cover the network's high costs.

... which leads me to my point.
As a DirecTV customer -- I had to get the dish as Comcast was unavailable in East Falls when we moved here in '05 -- I cannot watch Phillies, Flyers or Sixers games that appear on a Comcast channel (Thank Sporting God for 57).
The situation, which angers me as it drives me to alcohol when big games are on at the bar, leads me to believe that:
-- Comcast "is the most sophisticated, lucrative, and powerful professional [cable] enterprise in the world, with a special exemption ... that helps it maintain its monopoly on televised [baseball, hockey and basketball in Philadelphia].
-- "But [Comcast] wants more, and it's trying to use its enormous market power to force [me] to pay for games they have always seen for [the price of cable which would now be the price of satellite plus the price of cable]."

Now, if someone at Comcast cares to hem and haw through an explanation of how the NFL Network isn't merely following in their company's corporate footsteps in their approach, I'd be all ears. Because maybe then, I'd care what happens at the Comcast/NFL Network FCC hearings this week. But until then, I'm just going to repeat the mantra that, again using Cohen's propaganda against him...
[Comcast] should join us in putting the interests of fans and the viewing public first.


Anonymous Tracey said...

Comcast is evil. Just plain evil. I had to contact the Attorney General's office just to get them to fix a mistake on my bill (for several months after I cancelled premium channels and lost access to them, they continued to charge me for them; three months of calls to Comcast couldn't get the bill fixed). When FIOS came to my door with digital, I gladly switched.

But now that baseball season is in full swing, I realize that I won't be able to see all of Phillies games, because some of them are broadcast only on the channel formerly known as CN8, which is available only on Comcast, not on FIOS. Can't watch it on MLB.TV either -- it's blacked out! Evil. Evil.

Fortunately, CN8 only carries a few of the games (Comcast SportsNet and channel 17 are on FIOS, and that's where most of the games are), but I missed the game with the Harry Kalas tribute last night because it was only broadcast on CN8. I listened to it on the radio, but it's not the same.

8:55 AM  
Blogger Brian Hickey said...

Here here, Tracy! It's almost as if they seem to think that because they pissed away a whole lot of money on a new skyscraper that they own Philadelphia. Well, they don't. I'm just as furious that they blacked out the Flyers/Penguins game on Versus, which IS THEIR OWN NETWORK for fuck's sake.
Withholding Phillies, Flyers and Sixers games from those who fail to pay their bounty will only serve to destroy them. Which, let's admit it, will be fun to watch, even on rabbit-eared antennae.
Comcast is no more ethical than a pontoon of Somali pirates.

9:30 AM  

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