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Comcast Wants to Invest $2.5 Billion More on Stock Buybacks if Merger Deal Approved

Phillip Dampier March 31, 2014 Comcast/Xfinity, Consumer News No Comments

One of Comcast’s biggest investments of 2014 won’t pay to boost broadband speeds, improve customer service, or upgrade cable systems.

comcast-shareToday the cable company announced plans to spend an extra $2.5 billion — $5.5 billion total — this year to buy shares of its own stock in a share buyback program designed to please investors.

The extra investment will only come if shareholders approve the deal to merge Comcast and Time Warner Cable into a single company. If the merger is successful, Comcast is prepared to spend even more on share buybacks with money it plans to collect from the sale of three million current Time Warner customers that will be spun away in the merger.

Bloomberg News reports Comcast shares have fallen 10 percent since the acquisition was announced last month, reducing the value of the company’s all-stock offer. The proposal of 2.875 in Comcast stock for each Time Warner Cable share was worth $142.49 a share last week, down from $158.82 the day the transaction was made public.

By buying back shares in its own stock, Comcast will cut the number of shares outstanding, which increases earnings per share and usually boosts the stock’s price. The share repurchase will benefit shareholders and any top executives who receive bonuses based on successfully increasing the value of earnings per share. Customers get nothing.

Neither will the tax man if Comcast and Time Warner Cable structure its deals as spinoffs qualifying as tax-free transactions.

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Time Warner Cable Wins Cheap Hydropower from New York State for Its Buffalo Call Center

timewarner twcTime Warner Cable is one of three New York businesses that are the latest to be awarded almost 1 megawatt of inexpensive hydropower under the state’s ReCharge New York program.

The cable company was allocated 176 kilowatts of electricity for its new call center in Buffalo from the Power Authority’s hydroelectric plants in Lewiston and Massena, and from the open market. In return, it plans to add 152 new jobs in Buffalo.

The program is designed to encourage businesses to increase investment in New York communities. Most of the inexpensive power awarded recently went to Pratt and Whitney in Middletown in the Hudson region and to six businesses on Long Island.

“ReCharge NY is one of the strongest tools in the Empire State’s economic development arsenal,” Governor Cuomo said. “Low-cost power for businesses has helped create thousands of high-impact jobs in local communities, and its ripple effect of ReCharge NY can be felt statewide. Innovative initiatives like ReCharge NY continue to establish New York as a great place for businesses to thrive and grow.”

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New York Regulators Could Derail Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger

Gov. Cuomo

Gov. Cuomo

New York State is hardly overwhelmed with excitement over the merger of the nation’s largest and second-largest cable operators and is taking steps to give regulators enough power to derail the merger.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has decided the state will not be a bystander as the $45 billion deal is reviewed by federal regulators and is seeking new powers for the state’s Public Service Commission that could force Comcast and Time Warner Cable to prove their merger is pro-consumer.

The New York Post reports the new approach would be the opposite of current rules that force the PSC to carry the burden of proof that a deal hurts the public interest.

“[The proposed changes] are very important arrangements, and the state has a valid role in making sure that the consumer is protected,” Cuomo said at the State Museum in Albany.

A source told the newspaper the rules change “could essentially kill the deal.”

comcast twcSince the federal government deregulated the cable industry in the 1990s, state and local officials have had little oversight over cable service and pricing, but in many states regulators still have a voice in mergers and other business deals.

The Cuomo Administration denied the rule changes were specifically aimed at Comcast, claiming that the state was simply mirroring the type of regulations impacting gas and oil companies doing business in New York.

If the deal fails to win approval in New York, it would mean Comcast could not assume control of Time Warner Cable’s lucrative franchises in New York City and most of upstate New York. Analysts speculate Comcast is especially interested in aligning its operations in northern New Jersey with those of Time Warner Cable in New York — both part of the largest television market in the country.

nys pscSo far, Comcast does not seem concerned about Cuomo’s proposal.

“We are confident that the pro-competitive, pro-consumer benefits like faster Internet speeds and improved video options resulting from the transaction are compelling and will result in approval from the state,” Comcast said in a statement, adding that it looks forward to “presenting the multiple consumer benefits” of the deal for New Yorkers.

Reuters reports Florida, Indiana and Pennsylvania — home state for Comcast’s corporate headquarters — will also be taking a closer look at the merger.

Florida will be coordinating with U.S. Department of Justice’s anti-trust officials to review the deal.

“We are part of a multistate group reviewing the proposed transaction along with the U.S. DOJ Antitrust Division,” the Florida attorney general’s office said in an email.

Indiana is studying the impact of the merger on its state, and Pennsylvania promised an “independent review.”

The attorneys general group is focused on broadband instead of cable television in assessing the $45.2 billion deal, according to a source familiar with the effort who was not authorized to speak on the record.

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Cable Customer Service Improvements: Fool Me Once, Shame on You; Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me

Phillip "More empty promises from the cable industry" Dampier

Phillip “More empty promises from the cable industry” Dampier

Listening to Time Warner Cable’s “Here today and gone much richer tomorrow” CEO-in-passing Rob Marcus prattle on endlessly about improving “the customer experience” on analyst conference calls, the cable company’s blog, and in various press statements always makes me pinch myself to be certain I am not dreaming.

Time Warner’s Rob Marcus:

I’m focused on ensuring we establish a customer-centric, performance-oriented, values-driven culture defined by four basic tenets:

  • We put our customers first,
  • We are empowered and accountable,
  • We do the right thing, and
  • We are passionate about winning

What does that mean for customers? If we expect customers to trust us to connect them to what matters most, we must put them at the center of everything we do.

How is that working out for you?

Based on consumer surveys, many of Marcus’ customers may have a different sentiment:

  • Time Warner puts what is best for Time Warner first,
  • Time Warner is empowered to raise rates for no clear reason and as a deregulated entity is accountable to no one,
  • Time Warner does the right thing for Time Warner executives and shareholders,
  • Charlie Sheen was also passionate about “winning.”

 

So much for Comcast's customer service improvement project promised back in 2007.

So much for Comcast’s customer service improvement project promised back in 2007. (Source: ACSI)

There is nowhere to go but up when it comes to improving the abusive relationship most Americans have with the local cable or phone company. CNN asked the question, “do you hate your Internet provider,” and within hours more than 600 customers sang “yes!”

Marcus

Marcus

This is hardly a new problem. Karl Bode at Broadband Reports reminds us that Comcast broke its promises for major improvements in customer service more than five years ago. CEO Brian Roberts at the time blamed the troubles on Comcast’s enormity — taking 250 million calls a year handling orders, customer complaints, etc., is a lot for one company to handle.

“With that many calls, you are going to have failures,” Roberts admitted.

With more than 10 million Time Warner Cable customers waiting to move in at Comcast, if what Roberts says is true, things are about to get much worse. In fact, even before the merger was announced Comcast was just as despised as ever, thanks to rate hikes, usage caps, and poor service often delivered from their notorious sub-contractors that appear on the news for falling asleep, murder, digging in the wrong yard or blowing up laptops, dishwashers or homes.

Judging from the enormous negative reaction customers of both Time Warner Cable and Comcast had to the news the two were combining, it’s clear this merger isn’t the exciting opportunity Marcus and Roberts would have you believe.

‘If you despise Comcast today, your hate will know no bounds tomorrow as Comcast spends the next two years distracted with digesting Time Warner Cable,’ suggested one customer.

Another asked whether Americans have resigned themselves to a trap of low expectations, seeking out one abusive telecom company relationship after another.

highlights“After twenty years of Time Warner’s broken promises, service you can’t count on, and price hikes you can, I made the fatal mistake of running away from one bad relationship into the arms of another with the Bernie Madoff of broadband: AT&T,” wrote another. “Slower service, an unnecessary allowance on broadband usage, and one rate increase too many is hardly the improvement we were promised in the shiny brochure. But we have nowhere else to go.”

Being stuck with an independent phone company with no cable provider nearby can mean even worse service.

“I live in Seattle, and the only option in my neighborhood is CenturyLink DSL,” wrote Jen Wilson.

CenturyLink’s top speed in Wilson’s neighborhood? 1Mbps. At night, speeds drop to 122kbps — just twice the speed of dial-up Internet.

CNN’s Frida Ghitis observed the current state of broadband in the United States is alarmingly bad, and allowing Comcast and Time Warner Cable to merge won’t fix it:

Americans are divided on many issues, but resentment against these telecom giants is so pervasive that it may just be the most heartwarming symbol of national unity. And that’s as it should be. Except that the resentment should extend to politicians who have made this disastrous system possible and allow political contributions to prevent them from fixing it. The problem is not just one of dismal customer service. Instead, it is a growing threat to the country’s economic and strategic position.

If you travel overseas, you will quickly notice that Web access in much of the developed world is light years ahead of America’s. You may also be irritated to discover that far better Internet is much, much cheaper in other countries.

Time Warner's notorious modem rental fee was just a hidden rate hike, according to the ex-CEO.

Time Warner’s notorious modem rental fee was just a hidden rate hike, according to the ex-CEO.

Thus far, Time Warner’s remedy to improve service is yet another rate increase. Broadband prices are rising an average of $3 a month — $36 a year, with no speed enhancements on the horizon except in New York, Los Angeles, and cities where Google Fiber is threatening to kick the cable company in the pants. That means Time Warner’s 11.1 million broadband customers will deliver as much as $33.3 million more in revenue each month for broadband service alone. What will you get in return? In most cases, nothing.

Television customers will be pick-pocketed for the newly-”enhanced” on-screen guide many still loathe, which carries a new surcharge applied to the cost of set-top boxes and DVRs. This “enhancement” alone will cost most customers with two boxes an extra $30 a year. It will provide Time Warner with more than $170 million each year in revenue enhancement.

The cable company that fought a battle with CBS last summer “on behalf of customers” faced with paying extortionist pricing for CBS-owned cable networks and local stations will instead send their extortion payment direct to Time Warner, thanks to a new $2.25/mo “Broadcast TV Fee” imposed this spring by the cable company.

But Time Warner is unlikely to hang on to that money for long.

If it wanted to discourage programmers from demanding double-digit percentage rate increases, the plan is likely to backfire once the networks smell the money — more than $25 million a month, $300 million a year — Time Warner claims to be collecting on their behalf.

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Time Warner Cable’s Teeny-Tiny Fine Print Makes Redeeming Rebates Difficult

Good luck reading the fine print.

Good luck reading the fine print.

A Texas Time Warner Cable customer has discovered the fine art of cable company fine print, and it only cost her the Samsung Galaxy Note tablet promised in return for upgrading her cable package.

Sherry Buffington of Farmers Branch learned first hand that 1/16th of an inch print has but one purpose — to take away the promised tablet worth $399.

Time Warner Cable ran the tablet promotion nationwide over the holidays. Buffington wanted to know she would qualify before upgrading her service, so she called Time Warner Cable and got confirmation. She upgraded her service on the spot.

Weeks later, no tablet and no answers from Time Warner Cable. It took the Dallas Morning News’ Watchdog reporter to finally pry some answers out of the cable company.

Time Warner Cable’s position was finally made clear: No tablet for Ms. Buffington; she did not qualify for the offer because she didn’t pay attention to the fine print. It turns out customers have to switch to a specific bundled package to qualify for the promotion. Customers who simply upgraded service more often than not did not qualify for the promised tablet.

But Buffington still got something after her ordeal. It turns out Time Warner likes to keep recordings of customer calls indefinitely. A supervisor was able to pull the months-old recording of the call between Buffington and the customer service representative who promised she qualified for the tablet even though Time Warner now insists she does not. The cable company offered Buffington a $300 credit on her next bill to set things right.

Consumer advocates warn customers to take special care reviewing the fine print attached to most promotional offers and follow instructions precisely to qualify. But Watchdog Dave Lieber said Time Warner really went beyond the pale with the “disgustingly small” fine print he found completely unreadable.

Lieber’s inability to read the terms and conditions did not faze Melissa C. Sorola, TWC’s director of public relations. She reminded him the requirements are “stated three times in the documents.”

twc“Yes, that’s true,” wrote Lieber. “But it was in 1/16 of an inch everywhere. I don’t find that acceptable. Do you?”

Texas’ competing electric companies are held to a different standard. They have to produce their fine print in no smaller than 10-point type in paragraphs that do not exceed 250 words. Time Warner’s is half that size.

Customers rejected for rebates or promotions should file complaints with both the Better Business Bureau and their state’s Attorney General. This usually triggers a contact from an executive customer service agent to settle the matter. If you made a good faith effort to comply with the rebate, you should be able to receive a service credit equal to the amount or value of the rebate. Do not insist on receiving the promotional item or gift card, which is usually handled by a third-party fulfillment company.

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LA to Time Warner Cable: What Did You Do With Our $10 Million Dollars?

moneyLos Angeles has filed a $10 million lawsuit accusing Time Warner Cable of skimming off money owed to the city as part of its franchise fee agreement with the cable operator.

The Los Angeles Times reports Time Warner has been allegedly stiffing the city for years when money was desperately needed to help ease budget problems during the Great Recession.

“Time Warner owes L.A.’s taxpayers millions of dollars for the privilege of having its franchise,” city attorney Michael Feuer said during a City Hall news conference announcing the lawsuit. “This is a day where we are standing up and saying enough is enough.”

The 24-page lawsuit claims despite earning more than $500 million a year from Los Angeles-area customers, Time Warner blatantly refused to live up to its obligations to the city by not paying $2.5 million in franchise fees and public, education and governmental channel fees in 2008 and 2009 and an additional $7.2 million in fees in 2010 and 2011. The city contends that once in 2008 and again in 2011, Time Warner Cable withheld more than $5 million in fees the city said it was owed. The company finally paid a portion of the disputed fees, Feuer said, but then subtracted the same amount from its franchise fee payment, resulting in another underpayment, reports the newspaper.

timewarner twcThe city has negotiated with the cable company over the dispute for some time, to no effect.

“The negotiations haven’t been fruitful and we have to do something about that,” Feuer said. “Time Warner pocketed the money from its subscribers and then did not turn it over to the city of Los Angeles.”

The cable company will soon pocket more than 6% more revenue from customers across Southern California after announcing its rate hike for 2014.

Time Warner Cable contends the lawsuit is without merit.

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Frustration Central: Charter Communications’ Digital Conversion Irritates Cities, Customers

Phillip Dampier March 11, 2014 Broadband Speed, Charter, Consumer News, HissyFitWatch No Comments

all digitalCharter Communications’ march to all-digital service is one big Excedrin headache for many of the communities enduring the cable company’s conversion.

Charter is embarked on a campaign to end analog cable television service, freeing up bandwidth to offer more HD channels and increase broadband speeds. But the switch to digital has been accompanied by frequent service disruptions and outages.

In Texas, customers complain their digital channels are often frozen or pixelated. In Casper, Wyo., where Charter acquired an older cable system from Cablevision that was originally built by Bresnan Communications, customers’ complaints range from inconsistent service and slow response times to loss of sound and frozen video during airing of City Council meetings.

But some of the loudest concerns about Charter originate from the Outer Banks of North Carolina where customers are finding the switch to digital can be very costly.

Tourism is a major part of the local economy and the Outer Banks are filled with seasonal homes, rental condos and hotels. Many property owners maintain seasonal accounts with Charter Cable, only active during the tourist season. Some hotel owners notified about Charter’s plans to transition towards digital service worked with the cable company to buy televisions that would not need additional equipment to work after the switch. With the cable company’s recommendations, some hotel chains purchased dozens or even hundreds of digital-ready television sets installed in rooms that were ready for the switch.

Charter_logoOnly recently, Charter notified customers they also planned to encrypt the basic lineup, rendering the digital televisions useless without the additional cost and inconvenience of installing Charter’s digital set-top boxes. Although Charter will temporarily offer customers free rental of the boxes, after the offer expires, customers will pay Charter $6.99 a month for each box. For some upper end condos, the cost of renting multiple boxes will exceed the cost of the cable TV package.

The Outer Banks Voice details several other customer complaints:

With the older analog systems, many owners flat mounted their televisions to walls and had the cable wired directly into the television, out of sight. With boxes now required, rental homeowners will need to figure out where to place the box and how to run the cables to the set.

In addition, rental companies and homeowners will need to keep track of numerous remotes and keeping those remotes supplied with working batteries.

[...] Thus far, Charter is not offering boxes for sale, so owners cannot absorb the cost over the long-run use of the box, and there appears to be some confusion on whether homes with five or more televisions will require a “Pro Installation” at extra cost to ensure signal strength is sufficient.

If such an installation is required, owners and rental management companies will also be required to arrange access for Charter installers.

Rental condos are also faced with yet another logistic hurdle.

Many condos include cable television fees in their monthly association dues, and the cable contracts for all units are in the name of the condo association.

To obtain boxes, condo owners are now going to be required to set up their own individual accounts, often from an out-of-state location, and then determine how to get the boxes installed.

Signal strength is also a concern in condo projects. Even with analog signals, the multiple connections in one area make reception fuzzy and of low quality.

A small sample of complaints found all over Charter's social media pages.

A small sample of complaints found all over Charter’s social media pages.

Charter Communications shared their side of the story about the digital conversion:

Outer Banks, N.C.

Outer Banks, N.C.

Charter customers are notified by newspaper, direct mail, bill messages, phone calls from Charter representatives, and Charter commercial spots beginning at least 30 days prior to their cutover. Charter is making it easy for customers to receive one or more digital boxes at no cost for one, two or five years, depending on the customer’s programming package and other qualifying factors.

Customers that need less than four boxes can have them shipped directly to their home by calling 1-888-GET-CHARTER or pick them up at a Charter Store.

Customers that live out of town, that own vacation homes, can authorize personnel with their property management company or other specified individuals to pick up their boxes. Customers must first authorize those individuals and add them to their account by calling 1-888-GET-CHARTER. The customer account owner can rescind authorization of individuals at any time.

Property Management companies or authorized individuals can then obtain up to five set-top boxes at a Charter Store.

Customers needing more than five boxes should contact Charter 1-888-GET-CHARTER. A professional technician will be scheduled to assist customers with the installation.

Charter Stores are currently operating with expanded hours to accommodate customers during this all-digital project. Charter Store hours will also be expanded in April where peak volume is expected.

Commercial properties have several options available and can work with their Charter Business account representative on the best solution for their business.

Due to advances in technology, solutions available may involve the need for additional equipment in order to provide the best possible cable, Internet and voice products for our customers.

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Comcast’s Capitol Hill Cash Dump: Committees Overseeing Time Warner Merger Getting Big $

comcast stormComcast is dumping a blizzard of cash on Capitol Hill in a late winter storm of lobbying to win approval of its $45 billion buyout of Time Warner Cable.

Politico reports Comcast’s money is bipartisan, with generous checks going into the campaign coffers of Texas Republican Ted Cruz and Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin. In fact, the news site reports Comcast has donated to almost every member of Congress who has a hand in regulating the cable company.

In fact, the only three members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that have not received a contribution from Comcast are Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)

That Franken did not receive any Comcast cash comes as no surprise after the senator sent his supporters e-mails blistering the merger.

“Comcast reportedly has an army of over 100 lobbyists ready to swarm Capitol Hill and whose goal is to push this through,” Franken wrote. “Their top priority is Comcast’s bottom line — not whether this deal will be good for consumers. There’s also a pretty cozy relationship between Comcast and the regulators that will evaluate this deal, which I find troubling.”

When Politico asked members of Congress whether the generous contributions from the cable giant would influence their thinking about the merger deal, none had any comment.

It’s much the same story in the House of Representatives, according to Politico:

Comcast spreads the cash around.

Comcast spreads the cash around.

On the opposite side of the Capitol, the House Judiciary Committee is readying another hearing on Comcast — and many of its members also are familiar with the company’s financial support. Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), for example, has received $15,000 this cycle from Comcast, some for his leadership PAC and the rest for his personal campaign.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee and its Senate counterpart so far haven’t scheduled their own reviews of the new Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal. But both panels do regulate Comcast by way of their broad jurisdiction over Internet, cable and telephone issues, and they have been canvassed almost entirely by Comcast contributions. The company has given to 50 of 54 of the House committee’s Democrats and Republicans, donating either to their reelection campaigns or their leadership PACs, according to a POLITICO analysis of campaign finance data from Jan. 1, 2013 to Jan. 31, 2014. And Comcast has donated in some way to 20 of 24 lawmakers on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

There has been a total of $12,500 in checks for Walden, the leader of the telecom subcommittee, to both his personal coffers and leadership PAC. Comcast also has given $2,500 to Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), a contender to lead Democrats on the full Energy and Commerce panel following the retirement this year of California Rep. Henry Waxman — another recipient of Comcast support.

Albert Foer, president of the American Antitrust Institute, which opposes the merger, says Comcast’s contributions began long before the merger deal, but that is a well-considered strategy.

It’s “proactive giving,” said Miller, “so that when a corporation needs access in a time of trouble, investigation or oversight, they have already built the quote-unquote relationships they need to soften or make their arguments to a sympathetic audience.”

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Time Warner Cable Phone Customers May See Their Phone Numbers Go Unlisted

Phillip Dampier March 10, 2014 Competition, Consumer News, Frontier, Time Warner Cable No Comments

digital phoneTime Warner Cable telephone customers may find their phone numbers missing from directory assistance records and residential phone books.

This year, the cable company began charging directory publishers for its residential customer listings and some, including Frontier Communications, have refused to pay.

As a result, customers are likely to find their next copy of the White Pages thinner than it used to be.

The usefulness of telephone directories and directory assistance services have both been in decline for years as customers migrate to unlisted cell phones. But the loss of cable phone customers from phone books is a new trend. In the past, cable companies provided the listings for free to most directory publishers as a service to customers who wanted to keep their phone numbers in the directory. But now those listings are a money-maker, only available for sale.

Phil Yawman, Frontier Communications vice president and general manager for the Rochester, N.Y. area — Frontier’s largest urban market — told WXXI News the phone company opted not to buy the listings. 

Time Warner Cable spokesperson Joli Plucknette-Farmen said charging a fee for residential directory listings is accepted by the Federal Communications Commission.

Frontier, like many other phone companies, also no longer provides automatic delivery of residential White Pages listings, although the lucrative Yellow Pages will still appear on customer doorsteps. 

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Ex-Congressman Klink’s Relationship With Comcast: I See Nothing, I Hear Nothing, I Know Nothing

Klink

Klink

Rep. Ron Klink represented the citizens of Pennsylvania’s 4th Congressional District for most of the 1990s, but today he represents the interests of Comcast — but one would never know it from his website’s client list.

Klink was a popular moderate Democrat in his far western-central district north of Pittsburgh. But that was not enough to challenge then-Sen. Rick Santorum in 2000 for a Senate seat. Klink was a virtual unknown in the heavily populated eastern part of the state and lost the race by five points.

Klink did not stay disappointed for long after the election, following many other ex-members of Congress through Washington’s revolving door, coming out on the other side as a professional lobbyist.

Ron Klink & Associates tells its clients, “the key to success… is access.

“At Ron Klink and Associates, we pride ourselves on having the expertise and experience to navigate our clients through the political and bureaucratic mazes of government at the federal, state and local levels,” says Klink’s website. “It is often the case that organizations involved in issues of the day have the most difficulty reaching the branches of government needed to state their case. Whether on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., at federal agencies, or at any State Capitol, we guide our clients to interact effectively with decision makers in order to advance each client’s agenda.”

Klink specializes in getting clients face time with elected officials — access ordinary citizens are unlikely to have. When members of Congress ponder policy changes, many rely heavily on the advice that reaches them during these meetings. Knowing how to get a personal sit down with a member of Congress or senator can make all the difference. Fact-finding hearings are also critical in the persuasion game, and Klink’s firm makes sure clients win access to the precious few seats at the testimony table:

klinkassocRon Klink and Associates provides clients with the opportunity to influence the decisions made in the halls of Congress, federal agencies and the White House. We have extensive experience in issues analysis that can be helpful to a client trying to anticipate policy changes in the government. Ron Klink and Associates will work with the client to develop and then successfully implement a strategy that yields desired results. Our extensive contacts on Capitol Hill and the Executive Branch, allow our clients’ issues, whether legislative or regulatory, to be heard by key decision makers, thus giving a competitive advantage to the client.

Direct lobbying is only part of our government relations service. With more that 2,500 pieces of legislation being considered annually by the Congress, it is difficult for companies to follow legislation important to their industries. Ron Klink and Associates provides daily monitoring of all legislation, committee hearings, proposed rules, media events, news reports and behind the scenes discussions pertinent to the client’s success. Ron Klink and Associates will report daily if necessary on any events of importance to the client.

We also arrange for our clients to testify before Congress or a federal agency hearing when deemed helpful. We draft the testimony for the client, the media advisory and eventual press release explaining the significance of the event. We provide the panel Members with information about the clients and their interests, as well as conduct all follow up that may be needed to obtain a successful result.

We have arranged seminars and briefings for Members of Congress and Executive Branch employees in order to educate them on the importance of client issues. From these seminars, we are able to build strong, bipartisan coalitions of support to assist us in advancing the client’s goals.

Comcast-LogoWith thousands of lobbyists providing services similar to ex-Congressman Klink, it should not be surprising ordinary constituents without a team to go to bat on their behalf have a hard time getting a word in.

Most lobbying firms brag about their client list to attract more business. But not Ron Klink. He likes to keep his biggest clients a secret. Among them is a little cable company called Comcast, based in Philadelphia.

Klink doesn’t mention the company at all and does not admit he works on their behalf.

That rubbed the Tribune-Review the wrong way, and the newspaper slapped a “Loser Label” on the ex-politician:

Money-Stuffed-Into-PocketThe former congressman seems reluctant to admit he works for a communications conglomerate known for its constantly rising cable rates and less-than-stellar customer service.

The Murrysville Democrat was one of five former congressional members recently identified by The New York Times as being registered Comcast lobbyists. There likely is considerable work ahead for that group, as Comcast seeks federal approval to swallow competitor Time Warner Cable.

Klink’s website, ronklink.com, doesn’t identify Comcast as one of his lobbying clients. But Klink does own up to working for lesser-known entities such as Beaver County and the Findlay Township Municipal Authority.

For being so secretive about his Comcast connection, Klink gets the loser label.

Klink isn’t even close to being the only ex-member of Congress or public official now on Comcast’s payroll. Our favorite at Stop the Cap! remains the completely shameless and transparent Meredith Attwell-Baker, ex-commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission. Just months after voting in favor of the merger of Comcast and NBC, she hurried her resignation letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski and took a lucrative job at Comcast’s “government relations” department — a nice turn of phrase that really means “lobbyist.”

Comcast’s team includes six former government officials. From left, former Senator Don Nickles, former Representative Robert Walker, former Senator Blanche Lincoln, former Representative Ron Klink, David Cohen of Comcast and former F.C.C. member Meredith Attwell Baker.

Comcast’s lobbying team includes six former government officials. From left, former Senator Don Nickles, former Representative Robert Walker, former Senator Blanche Lincoln, former Representative Ron Klink, David Cohen of Comcast and former F.C.C. member Meredith Attwell Baker.

 

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