the news cycle on Monday’s FCC hearing

March 1, 2008

Last night, the first national news outlets picked up the story about Comcast packing the “public” FCC hearing on their discriminatory “network management” practices with dozens of paid seat-warmers.

Seems like a story in Valley Wag was sufficiently credible to get the attention of the AP, the WSJ, the Detroit Free Press and others. Once questioned, the Comcast folks basically admitted that they had paid people to hold seats.

I was there – well, I was among the people that got shut out for the first few hours – and I can attest that it was annoying to have to listen to the whole thing over an audio feed from the Berkman Center a few blocks away.

Now it appears that there may be another hearing at Stanford in a couple of weeks.  I don’t think Comcast will risk a stunt like this twice, but we’ll have to see.

More importantly, and interestingly, Andrew Cuomo, the NY state attorney general, has now subpoenaed Comcast records to get more information about their P2P throttling activities.

We’ll see how far this goes. Judging from FCC chairman Kevn Martin’s comments at the very end of the Havard Law School hearing, I suspect that they will take some sort of action against the telecoms. Problem is, as Comcast representative David Cohen pointed out when asked directly by Martin in the hearing, the telecoms’ legal departments don’t think the FCC has the authority to regulate them on this front…

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