Comcast Spends Big on Local Elections: Would Lose Millions in Revenue from Real Broadband Competition

Author(s): 
H. Trostle
Christopher Mitchell
Publication Date: 
Thursday, 2017, November 2

As the company with one of the largest ISPs in the nation, Comcast Corporation makes daily investment decisions. They choose to put company funds into a variety of ventures, from theme parks to hair color; all that matters is that the investment pays off. During the 2017 election season, Comcast once again devoted funds to an investment it considered necessary - influencing elections in Seattle and Fort Collins, Colorado. We prepared a policy brief to look deeper into Comcast's investment into the elections.

Download the brief hereComcast Spends Big on Local Elections: Would Lose Millions in Revenue from Real Broadband Competition. 

Seattle

In Seattle, Comcast and CenturyLink donated $50,000 to a political action committee that supports a candidate opposed to publicly owned Internet infrastructure. This is only the latest attempt of the two national ISPs to influence the city’s mayoral elections; in 2013, they contributed similarly to Ed Murray, who went on to win the election. Murray was also opposed to the publicly owned option.

In our analysis, we ran a range of possible scenarios and offered both a conservative Comcast loss estimate and figures based on higher loss of subscribership. We also accounted for rate adjustments due to the effects of competition and considered the losses Comcast would face when subscribers abandoned video services. Check out the policy brief for more results and details on our methodology.

Fort Collins

While the election in Seattle was to fill a position of power, the Fort Collins, Colorado, vote had a more direct impact on Comcast’s potential position in the community. Voters in the north central town of about 59,000 households decided whether or not to change the city charter to allow the municipal utility to offer broadband service. 

In order to fight off measure 2B to amend the city charter, Comcast and the political action committee that the company contributes handsomely shoveled more than $900,000 into the Fort Collins race. All of their money was invested into an intense misinformation campaign. Comcast's investment in Fort Collins was small compared to what they had to lose.

Download the policy brief for more estimates on Comcast revenue loss in Fort Collins.