Tuesday, February 10, 2015
One more question on Ige appointments arises with Abercrombie/Comcast revelations
Records obtained by In These Times through a public records request reveal that, in its effort to persuade the FCC to approve its proposed mega-merger, Comcast drafted letters all the way up the state political food chain to the governorship.
by Larry Geller
I visit the In These Times website but somehow missed this important story, already five days old. Richard Borreca revealed the details in his column today, Letter sent by Abercrombie to FCC seems a bit dubious (Star-Advertiser p. A9, 2/10/2015).
More than just “dubious,” the story could have been on the front page of the paper instead of a page 9 editorial column. Borreca did a good job with it in the space he is allowed.
For one thing, it could be an addendum to the paper’s Sunday front-page story questioning a number of Governor Ige’s recent appointments.It seems that Comcast, poised to swallow up Time Warner, donated a total of $7,000 to Governor Neil Abercrombie’s campaign. Coincidentally (?), the governor signed and sent a letter to the FCC promoting Comcast’s takeover of Time Warner that turns out to have been ghostwritten by Comcast. For that, Comcast came to Hawaii to thank Abercrombie at a Plaza Club lunch.
Referring to the letter drafted by Comcast for Abercrombie to sign, Borreca quotes Chris Conybeare, president of Media Council Hawaii:
"Comcast has been calling the shots and this entire issue deserves a thorough and public investigation."
Indeed it does. The paper could usefully assign a reporter to this latent scandal.
Conybeare said he also was concerned because one of the state officials involved with the letter and the Comcast negotiations is Catherine Awakuni, formerly state cable television administrator, who was named as the new DCCA director by Gov. David Ige.
Any questions about Awakuni’s involvement with the Comcast letter should be brought to light before her confirmation in the Senate comes up.
The acquisition itself raises many question marks for Hawaii consumers in view of Comcast’s notoriously poor record of customer service (see box, Comcast cited as one of America’s “10 most hated companies”…). Equally important could be the terms of acceptance in the DCCA letter cited by In These Times, which included, for example,
Comcast commits to continue to provide OTWC's "Everyday Low Price"
stand-alone Internet service to customers for a minimum of twelve (12)
months after the completion of the Proposed Transfer, and agrees to
provide customers at least thirty (30) days' notice of any change to this
So what happens to that “Everyday Low Price” a year after the takeover?
The In These Times article include copies of emails obtain as government records. See the original article, or download a copy yourself (note: this is an OCR copy and may contain errors).
The public should have many questions and concerns over this takeover and how it was handled. Including: could we have been sold out for $7,000 and a free lunch?