Watchdog asks Comcast to try harder on digital outreach


An activist group that operates on behalf of low- and moderate-income citizens in four Pennsylvania media markets says that very few of them are aware of Comcast’s bargain internet connection rate, even though three-quarters of the same group would subscribe. Comcast said its trying to get the message out and is willing to partner with any organization that can help.

As part of its agreement with the FCC that led to approval for its merger with NBC Universal, Comcast agreed to offer internet service for $9.95/month to families with children in a school lunch program.

The watchdog, Action United, is said by the Philadelphia Inquirer to operate in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown and state capital Harrisburg.

It conducted an informal poll of 107 of its constituents, all qualifiers for the program, and found that only eight had applied. Meanwhile, 62% had never even heard of it. Finally, just about 75% said they were interested in applying.

Comcast said it is working with the schools and other non-profits to get the word out and is also using paid advertising placed with various minority media outlets. The company stated it welcomed help from any organization with “boots on the ground,” and said it would welcome any help Action United is able to provide.

RBR-TVBR observation: If we were an activist group in a Comcast franchise area, we would take Comcast’s position at face value and attempt to work with them to propel this effort forward. For Comcast, the public relations benefits from a highly successful ISP program could provide a huge public relations benefit if the $9.95 is anywhere near the break-even point.