[T]he US has something approaching a national broadband crisis on its hands. In comparison with the rest of the developed world, the US has slower broadband speeds and higher broadband prices than just about anybody. When you do find exceptions, they always turn out to be cases of a very clear monopoly: Carlos Slim more or less owns broadband in Mexico, for instance, while a company called Southern Cross controls all of the bandwidth into New Zealand.
Drum agrees that broadband is the real story:
What’s more, as Michael Hiltzik points out, broadband is a direct competitor to cable in the streaming video market, and having a single company with a monopoly position in both is just begging for trouble. Comcast will almost certainly be willing to make promises of net neutrality in order to win approval for its merger with Time-Warner, but those promises will be short-lived. The truth is that if this deal were allowed to go through under any circumstances, it would probably deal a serious blow to our ability to use the internet the way we want, not the way Comcast wants us to.
Meanwhile, John Cassidy asks, “Does Comcast own Washington?”
In the past fifteen years, since it became the biggest cable company in the country, Comcast has invested a lot of time and effort in currying influence with the right people. Brian Roberts, Comcast’s chief executive, is a member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which was set up in 2011, and, according to the New York Times, he played golf with the President on Martha’s Vineyard. In 2000, Roberts served on the host committee for the Republican National Convention, in Philadelphia, but he and Comcast have been big givers to the Democrats since Obama took office. Roberts was even one of the donors to President Obama’s 2013 inauguration.
Meghan Neal has more on the cable giant’s lobbying operation:
Last year, the company spent more than $18 million to lobby Congress on issues like cable laws and net neutrality, and donated $1.7 million to the reelection campaigns of key lawmakers, according to data from Open Secrets. That includes Rep. Greg Walden, chairman of the subcommittee on communications and technology, which has jurisdiction over the FCC. In 2012 Comcast gave $854,000 to members of that subcommittee alone, according to figures dug up by Maplight.
(Chart from the BBC)