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Weekly News From the President: Comcast’s Claim That Vermont Public Utilities Commission Requirements Violate First Amendment Rights is Denied

Comcast’s Claim That Vermont Public Utilities Commission Requirements Violate First Amendment Rights is Denied

Some good news for communities in Vermont this last week:  a district court rejected Comcast’s argument that community needs requirements demanded by the Vermont Public Utilities Commission infringe on the company’s right of free speech.  Comcast had argued that fulfilling the PUC’s demands to extend lines to underserved communities and allow Electronic Program Guide access for PEG channels, would stifle its rights and customers in Vermont would suffer.

The judge in the case rejected the arguments. Whether Comcast will accept the ruling or appeal it is the next question.  You would think it would be simpler to serve communities well.

One of the findings of the PUC was that Comcast was making enough money to reinvest in local communities.  News reports this week say the company has put forward a cash bid of $40 billion for Sky, Rupert Murdoch’s European satellite service.  That’s $40 billion in cash they have lying around.

It’s not really surprising given the logic of markets that the company is seeking a transnational presence.  But it points to the need for community intervention if we want to protect the needs of locals.

Mike Wassenaar
President & CEO
The Alliance for Community Media