What Comcast Uber-Lobbyist David Cohen’s Isn’t Saying about Net Neutrality

David Cohen is Comcast’s chief political lobbyist. His role is to help the company quash potential competition. Cohen operates in D.C., at state capitals, and city hall. When Comcast believes that competition will emerge, they call on Mr. Cohen. For example, Comcast played a major role in the passage of anti-public interest legislation in a number of states banning community broadband networks.

Now the Roberts family has set Mr. Cohen to undermine what is the biggest threat to the nation’s # 1 cable monopoly: an open Internet. Cohen just wrote an op-ed yesterday [registration required] in the San Jose Mercury News. He had the chutzpah to say that rules ensuring all online content is treated fairly would be harmful because they could stifle “a child friendly-content zone” online! This coming from one of the leading providers of porn—Comcast! Comcast has also just begun promoting some of its new on-demand channels, including Playboy, Howard Stern, and something called “Dating on Demand” (from its website: “our stealth crew of sneaky eavesdroppers trails close behind and captures everything on tape. And we mean everything — the good, the bad and the “Holy crap can you believe he did that!”).

So, when Mr. Cohen makes the phony charge that net neutrality would take channel space away from kids services or health information—what he really means is that Comcast wants to control all the space itself. It wants to use bandwidth/channel capacity so it can profit from porn and other high-revenue content. It doesn’t want any video or online competition to emerge that might take away eyeballs, ad dollars, and subscription revenues.

The truth is Comcast, like other net neutrality opponents AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner, are terrified of an open Internet. If the Net remains open, then anyone can provide phone or video service. Who would need a Comcast then? No one.

That’s why Comcast is opposed to net neutrality, and why it is buying next-generation broadband technology from Cisco. Comcast wants to serve as a gatekeeper over the flow of video and data coming into our homes. Net neutrality rules would prevent Comcast from becoming a digital super-monopoly.
Beware of cable lobbyists—they’re a hazard to our democracy’s health.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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