STATEMENT: Official Philadelphia Comcast Survey Highlights Need for Change

 

STATEMENT: Official Philadelphia Comcast Survey Highlights Need for Change

For Immediate Release:  Hannah Sassaman,

hannah@mediamobilizing.org

Today, the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology released a long-awaited summary and comprehensive needs assessment they conducted surveying Philadelphia residents. In their survey, they asked Philadelphians many questions about their experiences with Comcast. Thousands of people responded to the city’s needs assessment survey, on paper, by phone, or online.   The City also announced public hearings to further inform the process, the week of April 27th, 2015.

As Comcast’s 15-years-old cable franchise agreement with Philadelphia expires in 2015, the data respondents provided to the City will inform officials as they begin negotiations for a new contract between Comcast and the City; a contract that could allow Comcast to secure near-monopoly access to Philadelphia homes and businesses for another 15 years. 

The statement below, released in response to the City’s release of the assessment, can be attributed to Hannah Sassaman, Policy Director at Media Mobilizing Project.  We will release an updated version of this statement after reading the data, provided to Comcast weeks in advance, but not to consumers or communities.

A statement from members of City Council can be found here:  http://www.bobbyhenon.com/comcast_hearings

“The City of Philadelphia has done important work surveying Philadelphia communities – and we look forward to reading this report in more detail.  We believe it will show us all that Philly consumers are fed up with high prices, low access, and low accountability for Comcast.

But as the Mayor noted in his press conference, and as the Needs Assessment Executive Summary notes, Philadelphia subscribers noted satisfaction levels 1 to 11% lower than other markets surveyed in the last six years.  And CBG, the consultants the City hired to conduct the survey, noted that the over 3200 online respondents had a significantly higher dissatisfaction with their service.

We would also note that on page 64 of the Needs Assessment – http://www.phila.gov/newsletters/finalNAR4615.pdf – it is noted that over 1700 people provided written comments in response to the survey.  Of those written comments, 99% of them were unfavorable, using terms like “poor”, “don’t pay their fair share of taxes”, “no competition”, “slow speeds”, “expensive”.  These are vital for the Mayor, and City Council, to read, consider, and act on when renegotiating this franchise.

Mayor Nutter, in his press conference, and City Councilmembers, in their statements, rightly noted that affordable internet and the future of our public schools and community spaces are key in this next negotiation with Comcast.

Now it’s up to the City to take these voices collected in the needs assessment – and the many more who will speak across neighborhoods, and at public hearings – and use them to inform any future deal with Comcast.

This is a once-in-a-generation negotiation determining the communications future of our city.  Thousands of people have signed a petition[1] asking the City of Philadelphia to push hard for a Comcast franchise that serves everyone.  We need affordable cable and communications services in the poorest big city in America, real choices and competition in our communications market, protection for Comcast workers and consumers, and a Comcast that pays its fair share in Philadelphia as a condition of any new franchise agreement.”

 The following quote can be attributed to Tracy Emerson, a former Comcast consumer and parent living in West Philadelphia.

“I paid a lot for Comcast services – services that my family and I need so my daughter can complete her homework, and so my son can look for work. I have no other choices for high speed broadband in my neighborhood, so now we use my cell phone data plan.  I have to do my homework at school so my daughter can use my data plan at home to do her homework.  While Comcast makes money off of people like me, our schools and services are cut to the bone. We all need to speak out and tell the City — no deal with Comcast unless they make communications in this city affordable and available for everyone. And no deal unless they pay their fair share.”

CAP Comcast organizers have been talking with powerful community organizations, Comcast customers and Philadelphia residents for months about people’s experiences with Comcast.  You can watch and listen to these stories online at http://www.capcomcast.org over the next weeks.  Campaign endorsers include the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Philadelphia Student Union, the 20-plus organization Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools, Liberty Resources, Women’s Community Revitalization Project, ACTION United, Pennsylvania Working Families, Media Mobilizing Project, Maypop Collective, Prometheus Radio Project, Jobs with Justice, , with more signing on regularly.

“Since 2011, ACTION United members have heard from city residents who can’t afford our Comcast services – services we need to work, help our kids go to school, and to work for change,” said Dawn Hawkins, a leader of ACTION United.  “We will be helping as many Philadelphians as possible speak at these public hearings, and tell our Mayor, City Council, and the whole city: no new deal with Comcast until they expand internet services for everyone, stop blocking competition and pay their fair share.”

“Many people we talk to around the city can’t afford Comcast internet at home. They have never heard of Comcast’s low-income internet plan, Internet Essentials, or they can’t overcome the many barriers to entry. People are fed up with Comcast’s high costs and infamously bad customer service. They want more competition, resources for our schools and services, and more choices,” said Jeff Rousset, an organizer with the CAP Comcast campaign. “We hope many people will attend the public hearings the week of April 27th, 2015 to make their voices heard and demand more from the City and Comcast.”

CAP Comcast is a new campaign focused on helping Philadelphia communities work with the City of Philadelphia to secure the affordable rates, resources, and competition we need in our communications systems.  Visit the campaign at http://www.capcomcast.org.

Media Mobilizing Project collaborates with poor and working people to tell the untold stories that help end poverty.  MMP helped lead a process that secured millions in federal stimulus funds for Philadelphia partners aimed at ending the digital divide.  In March 2013, MMP helped bring the public’s attention to the fact that Comcast had spent over $100,000 to block City Council’s bill to expand paid sick days to hundreds of thousands of Philadelphia workers: http://www.metro.us/local/advocates-comcast-is-trying-to-block-philly-s-paid-sick-leave-law/tmWmcl—90UfUZFeM3K2/. To learn more about Media Mobilizing Project, visit https://mediamobilizing.org or email info@mediamobilizing.org