Saturday, May 21, 2011

Comcast FCC Ccommissioner pt. 3

Meredith Baker has defended her move to NBCUniversal.
In a statement issued last week, she said "I'm proud of my nearly eight years of government service, and especially my service as an FCC
Commissioner under Chairman Genachowski's leadership."

Well, lets see if she has anything to be proud about.

  • BROADBAND: The FCC declares that "All Americans should have affordable access to robust and reliable broadband products and services.  Regulatory polices must promote technological, neutrality, competition, investment and innovation. "

So how does the U.S. stack up for "robust and reliable broadband"?
Image: Communication Workers of America

In a FCC report the U.S. is lagging behind in broadband adoption, ranking 12 out of 33 nations in fixed broadband households.

The U.S. ranks 9th in broadband speeds (we rank below Romania).

So for "reliable and robust" internet connections the U.S. is far far from number 1.  We didn't even make the top 10 list in households with broadband.  Overall, a very poor showing.
  • Net Neutrality:  As part of the FCC her stated purpose is to maintain "technological neutrality".  However, she has been a frequent and vociferous opponent of net neutrality.
FCC’s Meredith Baker slams Net neutrality plan. From Politico

Another poor showing on Ms. Baxter's part, here she didn't even try to protect net neutrality and was an active opponent.

  • Media: "The Nation's media regulations must promote competition and diversity and facilitate the transition to digital modes of delivery."
Meredith Baker voted to approve the  Comcast/NBC merger.  In what way does the Comcast/NBC merger improve diversity, lower prices or provide additional competition?  You'll seek in vain for anything that significantly improves life for the average consumer in the FCC report.  But Comcast/NBC reap many benefits from the deal.

You can read the full FCC report on its approval here.

But it does say:  "This transaction would effectuate an unprecedented aggregation of video programming content with control over the means by which video programming is distributed to American viewers offline and, increasingly, online as well. The harms that could result are substantial."  "It would also have the incentive and ability to hinder the development of rival online video offerings and inhibit potential competition from emerging online video distributors that could challenge Comcast’s cable television business."

Wait, "unprecedented aggregation" "substantial harm", "the ability to hinder and inhibit competition"??   This sounds like a good case to DENY the merger.  So far, you and I the average citizen has received no benefit from this merger, on the contrary it has many grave dangers and disadvantages.  So how is the FCC going to protect the consumer from the threats of substantial harm to diversity and competition?  

from the report:
"Because of these and other threats posed by the proposed transaction to competition, innovation, and consumer welfare, the Commission has developed a number of targeted, transaction related conditions and Comcast has offered a number of voluntary commitments to mitigate the potential harms the proposed combination might otherwise cause."

Your kidding?   The FCC admits that this merger provides grave threats to competition and diversity.  To protect the citizens of the U.S. from these dangers we have "voluntary" commitments by Comcast.  They promise to be good?!!  That level of self-regulation didn't work very well on wall street, or in the gulf of Mexico. 

Let's summarize Meredith Baker's accomplishments at the FCC:  During her tenure at the FCC the U.S. has fallen behind in internet speeds and in broadband access, she has been an active opponent of net neutrality and she has approved a merger that threatens competition and diversity in a key component of our economy that could cause grave and substantial harm to not only the communications industry but our democracy as well.  In short, she can be "proud" that she got a big fat check from Comcast/NBC for making decisions that help Comcast/NBC and endanger, stifle or provide zero benefit for everyone else in the country.  Did I mention that she was a Republican Commissioner?  This feels like  government by the corporations and for the corporations. 

Here is a petition to demand Congress investigate Meredith Baker
Expecting Darrel Issa, R  to do a thorough investigation of this is like expecting Pinochio to become an arsonist.  In the senate we have Patrick Leahy, so we have a chance.

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