It’s not a revelation that contempt for corporate America is back in vogue. So it’s not surprising to find the 240 pages of "Comcasted" (Camino Books, Apr 1, $24.95) dripping with distaste for cable and the Roberts, "a family of price-gouging, wanna-be monopolists." This sort of stuff sells books. Whether or not it’s true is another matter. And speaking of revelation, we didn’t come across many during a perusal of Philly Inquirer reporter Joseph DiStefano’s book, which re-works well-trodden themes: cable as a monopolist in video and data, serving the American consumer a steady diet of higher monthly bills (yes, there’s a picture of the cable pig, courtesy of EchoStar); stock ownership rigged to maintain the Roberts’ control of Comcast; cable as a perennial loser in J.D. Powers quality surveys; Comcast and cable as distributors of pornography; cable as the epitome of a growing wasteland of mindless entertainment that’s yielded a generation of inactive, unhealthy couch potatoes. For cable industry readers, ‘Comcasted’ is a quick, 1-sided summation (without an Index) up through the failed Disney takeover and free VOD campaign (which DiStefano claims, wrongly, is fee-based). The worry for NCTA and Comcast is that the book’s main target is the less informed general public, who may be outraged by those themes and thus primed to devour mean-spirited barbs (not all of them sourced) such as: Ralph’s wife Suzanne is a bleached blonde; his 1st business foray (in golf) was ethically questionable; despite spreading "small doses" of wealth to charitable causes throughout Philly, the family has yet to give a "groundbreaking, carve-it-in-stone donation;" Brian earns more than NBA superstar (and Comcast employee) Allen Iverson; despite once providing "sweetheart" deals to blacks, Ralph and Brian engaged in business with supporters of segregation and apartheid, respectively; former 76ers front man and Roberts’ employee Pat Croce’s admiring tribute: "I love Ralph Roberts; he’s Don Corleone without the killing." Without much official cable response included, the book will alarm general readers. The crowning blow for cable may be the author’s brief defense of the Roberts and Comcast: unlike cable "loudmouths" (Ted Turner, Dr Malone) Brian and Ralph are "…the very image of gentlemen. Statesmen, even." And Comcast hasn’t been convicted of bribery or shady accounting. Other MSOs can’t say the same.

The Daily


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