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September 30, 2005

Comcast blows off the voters

Boston Mayor Tom Menino and challenger Maura Hennigan squared off in a debate of sorts on WGBH's "Greater Boston" on Wednesday night.  I wasn't able to watch it (anyone out there care to offer a report?), but certainly voters in the city of Boston should want to see it before they decide how to vote on November 8.

So it's depressing to read in the Herald that Comcast, which apparently had originally agreed to make the debate available on its "On Demand" service until Nov. 2, has now reneged, and will make it available only for 48 hours after its initial broadcast.

On the one hand, it's hard to get too worked up about this.  Apparently, Comcast applies the 48-hour rule to all Greater Boston programs, and there's no indication (yet) that there's any secret conspiracy afoot at Comcast to withhold access to the Menino-Hennigan debate.  But on the other hand, is it really so much to ask of a cable company that they go just a little bit out of their way to improve democracy in the communities it supposedly serves?  I have no doubt that Comcast has the technology to make this particular program available through election day, as they originally said they would.  So why not do it?  Comcast spokeswoman and former Cellucci/Swift/Romney press aide Shawn Feddeman offered no explanation beyond saying that the 48-hour rule is their standard operating procedure.  Well, that's really not good enough.  This debate was the only time these two candidates will be going head to head, it's important for Boston voters to see it, and there's no reason beyond sheer laziness that Comcast couldn't make it available. 

So talk to Comcast (the "contact us" feature at this link wasn't working when I wrote this post, but hopefully it'll be fixed soon - UPDATE: Adam Reilly provides some phone numbers in the comments below).  Tell them you want them to make the debate available until election day, and that it's part of their responsibility as the major cable TV provider in the area to do so.  Comcast says it "has always believed in investing in the communities we serve."  Here's their chance to prove that they mean it.

UPDATE: Thanks to Adam Reilly for noting that video and podcast of the debate are available on the internet at this link.

Posted by David at 12:17 PM in Massachusetts | Permalink


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David: Thanks for pointing this out. I think I'll give Comcast a ring myself to try to get some more info. In the meantime, I have a post on the debate on my new Phoenix blog, Talking Politics, which is at www.bostonphoenix.com/talking_politics/.
Here's a preview: Hennigan kicked Menino's butt.

Posted by: Adam | Sep 30, 2005 12:34:59 PM

Thanks Adam - the new blog looks great! I've added it to our blogroll.

Posted by: David | Sep 30, 2005 12:49:10 PM

David: Thanks for the kind words! I appreciate it.

Also: I just posted two phone numbers that people can use to complain about Comcast's move. Here they are:

1. Randy Waddell, Comcast's regional VP of marketing. 603-695-1580.

2. Shawn Feddeman, Comcast spokesperson. 617-279-6114. (This is her cell; I couldn't get her office number.)

Posted by: Adam | Sep 30, 2005 1:59:14 PM

Comcast has very bad service.

Posted by: shawn | Nov 9, 2005 1:26:44 PM

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