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The Almighty Buck The Internet Politics

You Can't Kid a Kidder: Comcast's Cohen May Have Met His Match In FCC's Wheeler 56

Posted by Soulskill
from the until-comcast-hires-wheeler-away dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Comcast's top lobbyist, David Cohen, is known to be a savvy political operator, having pushed through the No. 1 U.S. cable operator's landmark acquisition of media giant NBC Universal in 2011. But Alina Selyukh And Liana B. Baker write at Reuters that although Comcast ranks among the top-ten corporate influencers in Washington, having spent $18.8 million on lobbying last year, Cohen may have met his match in Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler. Wheeler headed the cable trade group from 1979 to 1984 and ran the wireless industry association from 1992 to 2004. Since taking over the FCC last November, however, Wheeler has not shied away from stances that have roiled past allies. Wheeler publicly expressed skepticism about a potential merger between wireless carriers Sprint and T-Mobile in one of his most attention-grabbing moves last February.

'You can't kid a kidder. Having been a lobbyist, he knows all their tricks,' says Blair Levin. Comcast will formally request an FCC review of the $45.2 billion Time Warner Cable deal later in March. Opponents say the combined company will have too much power over what Americans can watch on television and do online. As FCC chairman, Wheeler has publicly and repeatedly stated his 'unabashed' support for competition. Wheeler has also hired a heavyweight consumer advocate, Gigi Sohn, as a senior adviser. Colleagues of Wheeler, a published historian, also highlight his subject expertise. 'He knows these issues like the back of his hand,' says one FCC official who works with Wheeler. 'He knows how the business runs. He knows these people, he knows what they think and what policies they want.'"
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You Can't Kid a Kidder: Comcast's Cohen May Have Met His Match In FCC's Wheeler

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  • Nationalise. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 15, 2014 @03:03PM (#46493943)

    You can't fight the tide of regulatory capture, and it's always most efficient and least risky to consolidate repeatedly until a monopoly is reached.

    So, it might as well be owned by US residents rather than a few shareholders.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sudo (194998)

      well that aint going to happen, unless the socialists take over (not in this lifetime)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by davester666 (731373)

        > one FCC official who works with Wheeler. 'He knows how the business runs. He knows these people, he knows what they think and what policies they want.'

        yes, because 'these people' paid to have him put there. he can't be a completely obvious shill, but he already has shown his colors w.r.t. net neutrality "we'll just wait to see what happens without it first"

        • by symbolset (646467) *

          He can be an obvious shill. He just needs good PR people who can put this "insight" spin on his experience. He will be sucking at the MPAA's tit again soon enough.

          This is all Joe Biden's doing. He brought the Hollywood money and bought some good appointments with it. He got Department of Justice too, and so we killed Aaron Swartz and the FBI invaded New Zealand to get Kim Dotcom.

  • by HairyNevus (992803) <hairynevus&gmail,com> on Saturday March 15, 2014 @03:06PM (#46493967)
    Wow....what happened to Kabletown?
  • by LordKaT (619540) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @03:08PM (#46493979) Homepage Journal

    ... that he's not gunning for a c-level position at Comcast, Sprint, or T-Mobile? Guess we'll have to see how favorable he acts to Verizon and AT&T.

    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @04:37PM (#46494523)

      "So what you're saying is that he's not gunning for a c-level position at Comcast, Sprint, or T-Mobile? Guess we'll have to see how favorable he acts to Verizon and AT&T."

      The really telling thing here is that he said he was "skeptical" of the idea. Until the last decade or so, any FCC chairman would have publicly rolled on the floor laughing at the idea.

      That should cause you some concern.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @03:09PM (#46493991) Journal
    You can be certain anything he does is benefiting those who give him money, and it's not you.
    • by sudo (194998)

      yeah, but its a similar situations with politicians.
      But instead of money they are currying favor for future positions for those companies/lobbys.

      • yeah, but its a similar situations with politicians.

        So true. How can you tell a politician is lying?

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by EvilSS (557649)

          yeah, but its a similar situations with politicians.

          So true. How can you tell a politician is lying?

          Trick question, they are never not lying.

          • yeah, but its a similar situations with politicians.

            So true. How can you tell a politician is lying?

            Trick question, they are never not lying.

            What if a politician says: "I am lying."

            A politician is always lying which means he can't be lying like he says he is. He's telling the truth. But if he's telling the truth, then saying "I'm lying" is a lie. So he's lying. But if he's lying about lying then he's telling the truth. But.... *brain explodes*

            • The levels of dishonesty are deep.
            • by EvilSS (557649)

              What if a politician says: "I am lying."

              A politician is always lying which means he can't be lying like he says he is. He's telling the truth. But if he's telling the truth, then saying "I'm lying" is a lie. So he's lying. But if he's lying about lying then he's telling the truth. But.... *brain explodes*

              Not a problem. That is one phrase you can be sure no politician will every say, when referring to himself.

        • by sconeu (64226)

          yeah, but its a similar situations with politicians.

          So true. How can you tell a politician is lying?

          His lips move.

  • by sudo (194998) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @03:12PM (#46494015) Homepage

    I just see this as bittersweet, that it takes a former lobbyist to be a match against another lobbyist.
    Makes you think how many bad decisions the government have made due to maneuvering from professional lobbying groups.

    • by hey! (33014)

      Well, "set a thief to catch a thief."

      One of the reasons for the dysfunction we have in Washington is that all the rules that are supposed to protect the public interest have become so complicated that they actually promote crony capitalism. You need someone who knows how to hack the system to catch people hacking the system.

    • All of them. Banning lobbying would solve numerous problems.At least for my grandchildren.

    • by symbolset (646467) *
      Do you know why dairy farmers don't farm lizards instead of cows? It's because lizards don't give milk. The man is who he is.
  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @03:20PM (#46494077) Homepage

    'You can't kid a kidder. Having been a lobbyist, he knows all their tricks,' says Blair Levin.

    So this is what we've been reduced to? The disconsolate wish, having turned the regulatory body over to one of the kleptarchs [wikipedia.org], that he will discover not only his duty to society but also unbiased objectivity, and turn on his own? A ray of hope so thin strains my credulity.

    • by careysub (976506) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @04:38PM (#46494533)

      ... A ray of hope so thin strains my credulity.

      Try the cynical angle on this. This deal is a howler - he would be hanging out an "Industry Shill" shingle at the start of his tenure if he gave this merger a pass. A truly smart savvy operative would use this to make his "public rep", nixing an outrageous scheme, and giving a nice speech about it. Then with his newly minted regulatory cred, he can give a pass on tons of other stuff and still argue that he is working for the people.

    • 'You can't kid a kidder. Having been a lobbyist, he knows all their tricks,' says Blair Levin.

      So this is what we've been reduced to? The disconsolate wish, having turned the regulatory body over to one of the kleptarchs [wikipedia.org], that he will discover not only his duty to society but also unbiased objectivity, and turn on his own? A ray of hope so thin strains my credulity.

      I don't know, if done right it can go really well. See Joseph Kennedy and the initial SEC. He may actually be on the up and up, only time will tell.

      • by careysub (976506)

        'You can't kid a kidder. Having been a lobbyist, he knows all their tricks,' says Blair Levin.

        So this is what we've been reduced to? The disconsolate wish, having turned the regulatory body over to one of the kleptarchs [wikipedia.org], that he will discover not only his duty to society but also unbiased objectivity, and turn on his own? A ray of hope so thin strains my credulity.

        I don't know, if done right it can go really well. See Joseph Kennedy and the initial SEC. He may actually be on the up and up, only time will tell.

        Too true. People can surprise you. But there is a reason why it is a surprise.

  • by Zombie Ryushu (803103) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @03:58PM (#46494295)

    Cable is too locked down. I consider myself a Cord Cutter. Because now, Every channel on my local Cable company is Encrypted QAM. If back in 1995, you had told people that every single channel, including re-broadcast Broadcast TV, in both the US and Canada would be "Scrambled" like HBO, Cinemax, Disney, and Showtime, requiring a cable box be present in every room, and that VCRs would be next to useless (you can still use a VCR, technically.) and that we would be paying $150+ in bills for it, we would be in outrage mode and be clamoring for revolution in both the US and Canada.

    If the FCC really had a backbone (and it's Canadian a backbone, they would apply a Federal Regulation that all Cable must be decrypted and there would now be a universal access fee of around $65 monthly, .Any Cable or content provider that refused to comply being subject to Federal investigation, arrest, and trial on charges of money laundering, wire fraud, including it's board of directors and CEO

    • I agree with all your comments. I live in Ontario, Canada and most cableco's in Ontario (the big ones anyhow) encrypt almost all their channels using encrypted QAM. So they force you to buy/rent one of their expensive cable boxes just to access the channels ON TOP of paying for the channels themselves. Basically, built in tuners are useless if using cable.

      Both the FCC (and it's equivalent in Canada, the CRTC) do very little to rein in the big telcos. I got tired of paying $150/month for digital cable and cu

    • In Canada you can buy the box with out the outlet or mirroring fees.

      and cable used to make a big deal unlike satellite you don't need a box at each tv.

    • by evilviper (135110)

      If back in 1995, you had told people that every single channel, including re-broadcast Broadcast TV, in both the US and Canada would be "Scrambled" like HBO, Cinemax, Disney, and Showtime, requiring a cable box be present in every room, and that VCRs would be next to useless (you can still use a VCR, technically.) and that we would be paying $150+ in bills for it, we would be in outrage mode

      Before '95, people EXPECTED to need a cable box on every TV, just because TV tuners didn't have a "cable" mode to tune

  • overblown (Score:3, Funny)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @04:11PM (#46494383)
    Ooh, what a shrewd and wise character. I'm sure nothing gets past him! Here's what the major hint for me was, personally: EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE US IS AGAINST IT! All media coverage, every customer, even other countries are saying what a crock of monopoly bullshit it is. What a hard decision he has to make! I hope he's as clever as they say to figure this one out!
    • by luther349 (645380)
      in one corner a huge pile of cash in the other EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE USA. they nearly always select the huge pile of cash.
  • by mrsam (12205) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @05:59PM (#46494955) Homepage

    I've been saying this for many years. The reason why US broadband sucks is because the original breakup of Ma Bell has mostly failed. The fault line of Ma Bell's breakup was set to be the local service vs long distance. What should've happened instead was that the Bell system should've been broken up at the physical plant level. ILECs should've been left owning nothing more than the physical plant, selling access to it, at tariffed rates, to any CLEC that wants to provide voice or data service over the last mile.

    I'm at pessimist at heart. At best, we can hope that this mega merger is going to get canned. But of course, one can dream about FCC saying to Comcast and Time Warner: "You want to merge, ok, but you end up owning only the physical plant, and anyone who wants to provide video, voice, or data service, can pay you for maintaining the coax, and other than that, butt out."

    • I completely agree, and have often echoed the same thing about ILEC's and the "local plant" situation. Really, the layer 1 should be ran by the municipality itself, and leave layer 2 and up for "competition" Then we could have a specific part of our "bill" be only for infrastructure maintenance and upgrades, so all customers in an area pay into the same cost center that is then used for upgrades. Cities could then also to bonds for fiber, and the "content delivery" companies would actually want more ban
    • What should've happened instead was that the Bell system should've been broken up at the physical plant level. ILECs should've been left owning nothing more than the physical plant, selling access to it, at tariffed rates, to any CLEC that wants to provide voice or data service over the last mile.

      Interestingly this is roughly what happened in the UK with voice and data telecoms. BT (as the previously nationalised monopoly) is left with all the infrastructure, and the services on top, but they have to run them as separate businesses. Other companies have the right to piggy back on the last mile, and install their network hardware in BT exchanges. It worked very well for the ADSL-era, though an argument can be made that BT have wrested a bit too much influence again now that we're moving to fibre. Hea

  • we will have to see what he does about net neutrality.

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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