Why Net Neutrality Is Good for Comcast

COMCAST-TWILIGHT-jeff-fusco-940x540

So what if Thursday’s net neutrality vote by the FCC isn’t that big a deal for Comcast?

Yes, we know that Comcast wasn’t happy with the outcome. We know that lawsuits will ensue. We know that maybe (maybe) the Time Warner Cable merger is in question.

But  could the conventional wisdom be wrong?

The Christian Science Monitor says yes:

Despite the outcry, however, nothing about the way companies like Comcast and Verizon currently do business will change, at least in the near term. No ISP actually offers a “fast lane” for premium content, nor do they block or slow down certain websites. Financially, the specter of regulation hasn’t had much of an impact, either. A group of telecommunications CEOs sent the FCC a letter in May warning that governmental overreach could have an “investment-chilling effect.” But as Tim Wu pointed out in the New Yorker Thursday, stocks for broadband providers actually jumped after Mr. Wheeler first announced net neutrality rules on Feb. 4, and they’ve stayed high.

This is all par for the course when it comes to regulating communication, says Chip Pickering, CEO of COMPTEL, a lobbying group for Internet content providers, in a phone interview. He argues that the biggest telephone and cable companies have always opposed regulations that would create a more competitive field, from the breakup of AT&T in the 1980s to the overhaul of the Telecommunication Act in 1996. “Incumbent [companies] always oppose it,” he says, “but in every case their values increased and their services got better.” In five years, he argues, companies like Comcast and Verizon will have benefited as much as start-ups.

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Pa. Senate Eyes Low State Vaccination Rate

flu vaccine

Remember that Pew study showing Pennsylvania has the second-lowest vaccination rate in all the 50 states? The news didn’t go over so well in the Pennsylvania Senate.

The chamber’s Committee on Public Health and Welfare this week gave approval to a resolution calling for a study on how to increase youth vaccinations in the state. “According to the Pennsylvania Immunization Coalition, approximately 23 percent of 2-year-olds in Pennsylvania are not up-to-date for the currently recommended vaccines,” Sen. Shirley Kitchen, a Philadelphia Democrat, said in a memo sponsoring the resolution. “The goal of this staff study is to improve public health by addressing issues that affect youth vaccination within our Commonwealth.
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Second Penn Meeting Disrupted by Protesters

We told you yesterday about how activists disrupted a meeting of the Penn Board of Trustees for a protest aimed at the board’s chairman, David Cohen, who is also executive vice president at Comcast. Turns out activists weren’t done: They also disrupted a later meeting held by the trustees at the Inn at Penn.

The Daily Pennsylvanian reports:

The Board of Trustees Budget & Finance Meeting today quite literally ended in protest. Philadelphia Jobs with Justice, a local labor union-backed nonprofit, stood outside of the Inn at Penn’s Walnut entrance to demand that the University pay payments in lieu of taxes, or PILOTs, to the city government.

Protestors were questioned by a Penn detective and grilled by Penn President Amy Gutmann’s security guards, said Gwen Snyder, Executive Director of Philadelphia Area Jobs with Justice. Protestors were also given pamphlets specifying the limits to their free speech by hotel management, Snyder said.

“We made it public that we were planning to attend the trustees meeting,” Snyder said. “We thought it was really important for them to hear not just from us but from community members and supporters across the city that we think Penn should pay its fair share.”

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Company That Tried to Purchase PGW Is Itself Sold

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

UIL Holdings, the Connecticut company that last year attempted to buy PGW from the city, has itself been sold to a Spanish firm.

UIL officials said the $3 billion deal with Iberdrola materialized only after the PGW sale fell through. But the timing of the deal raised questions at City Council, and Council President Darrell Clarke suggested the move vindicated Council’s concerns about selling to PGW. Council let the proposed sale of PGW to UIL collapse last year without ever holding a hearing — or vote — before a deadline for the deal’s completion.
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WATCH: Anti-Comcast Activists Disrupt Penn Trustees Meeting

Protest at Penn Board of Trustees

[Updated with David Cohen comment on FCC vote.]

Anti-Comcast student activists disrupted a meeting of the Penn Board of Trustees this morning, protesting the company’s stance on net neutrality and its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable.

They took video of the event, in which they unfurled a banner emblazoned with the hashtag #Don’tBlockMyInternet:

“Students demanded that Comcast stop its advocacy and lobbying against Title II net neutrality at both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and in Congress,” the activists, who are working with Philadelphia’s Media Mobilizing Project, said in a press release. “They also spoke out against Comcast’s push to merge with its biggest competitor, Time Warner Cable.” About a dozen students participated.

One problem: David Cohen — Comcast’s executive vice president and chairman of Penn’s board — wasn’t there to see the protest directed at him. According to the video, however, the meeting was adjourned rather than have trustees persist in the face of the disruption.
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Casey Pushes for Tougher Oil Train Regulations

Sen. Bob Casey is pushing to expedite a new federal regulation intended to increase the safety of oil-carrying trains that roll through Philadelphia on their way to the city’s refineries.

Pittsburgh Business Times reports:

Add Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) to the list of senators who are pushing for an expedited review of a draft rule that would require older railroad tanker cars be phased out or retrofitted.

Casey’s office said he’ll be sending a letter asking that the Office of Management and Budget move quickly in finalizing the rule and publishing it. The rule comes in the wake of tanker car explosions hauling shale oil. The proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Transportation aims to improve railroad safety by getting rid of requiring improvements to the older DOT-111 railroad tankers.

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Live Wires Fall on SEPTA Train, Halt Traffic

[UPDATE] SEPTA reports that shuttle buses are currently operating between Glenside and Warminster in both directions until further notice.

[UPDATE] It appears the passengers, at least, have continued their travels:

[ORIGINAL]

Service on SEPTA’s Warminster Regional Rail line has been suspended in both directions, from Warminster to Glenside Station, after live electrical wires fell on a train, trapping 500 passengers.
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Wolf Proposes Cutting Corporate Tax in Half

Gov. Wolf. | Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Gov. Wolf. | Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Take that, Gov. Rick Scott.

The same week the Florida governor came to Philadelphia to poach businesses — saying his state’s tax structure is less burdensome than the Keystone’s state — Gov. Tom Wolf proposed cutting Pennsylvania’s main corporate tax rate in half.

TribLive reports:

Wolf, a Democrat, said during a visit to Bethlehem that his first budget proposal next week would seek to reduce the tax from 9.99 percent to 5.99 percent in 2016, 5.49 percent in 2017 and 4.99 percent in 2018.

“The commonwealth can help set the table for robust private-sector growth to create and retain good jobs while strengthening the middle class,” said Wolf, a York County businessman. “In order to create jobs that pay and an economy that grows, we must acknowledge that success will require investment in our companies and our people, and a new business climate that is welcoming and fair.”

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