Comcast Corporation (styled as COMCAST ,formerly comcast ), formerly registered as Comcast Holdings , [4] is an American multinational mass media company and is the largest broadcasting and largest cable television company in the world by revenue. [5] It is the second-largest pay-TV company after the AT&T - DirecTV acquisition, largest cable TV company and largest home Internet service provider in the United States, [13] and the nation's third-largest home telephone service provider . Comcast services U.S. residential and commercial customers in 40 states and the District of Columbia . [14] The company's headquarters are located in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania .

As the owner of the international media company NBCUniversal after 2011, [15] [16] [17] [18] Comcast is a producer of feature films and television programmes intended for theatrical exhibition and over-the-air and cable television broadcast.

Comcast operates multiple cable-only channels (including E! Entertainment Television, the Golf Channel , and NBCSN ), over-the-air national broadcast network channels ( NBC and Telemundo ), the film production studio Universal Pictures , and Universal Parks & Resorts in Los Angeles and Orlando. The first Universal park outside of the US, Universal Studio Japan, opened in 2001 and Universal Studio Singapore in 2011. Few new locations are planned and being developed for future operation. [19] Comcast additionally has significant holding in digital distribution (thePlatform). In February 2014 the company agreed to merge with Time Warner Cable in an equity swap deal worth $45.2 billion. Under the terms of the agreement Comcast was to acquire one hundred percent of Time Warner Cable. [20] Notwithstanding on April 24, 2015, Comcast terminated the agreement.

Comcast has been criticised for multiple reasons. The company's customer satisfaction most often ranks amongst the lowest in the cable industry. [21] [22] Comcast has violated net neutrality practises in the past; and, notwithstanding Comcast's commitment to a narrow definition of net neutrality, [23] critics advocate a definition of which precludes distinction between Comcast's private network services and the rest of the Internet. [24] Critics additionally point out a lack of competition in the vast majority of Comcast's service area; there's limited competition amongst cable providers. [25] Given Comcast's negotiating power as a large ISP, a few suspect that Comcast could gearing (finance) paid peering agreements to unfairly influence end-user connexion speeds. Its ownership of both content production (in NBCUniversal) and content distribution (as an ISP) has raised antitrust concerns. These issues, in addition to others, led to Comcast being dubbed "The Worst Company in America" by The Consumerist in 2014 and 2010. [26] [27]

Overview

Leadership

Comcast is at times described as a family business. [28] Brian L. Roberts , Chairman, President, and CEO of Comcast, is son of co-founder Ralph Roberts. Roberts owns or controls just over one percent of all Comcast shares but all of the Class B supervoting shares, which gives him an "undilutable 33 percent voting power over the company". [29] Legal expert Susan P. Crawford has said this gives him "effective control over its [Comcast's] every step". [30] In 2010, he was one of the highest-paid executives in the United States, with total compensation of about $31 million. [30]

Corporate offices

Comcast is headquartered in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania, and additionally has corporate offices in Atlanta , Detroit , Denver , and Manchester, New Hampshire . [6] On January 3, 2005, Comcast announced that it would become the anchor tenant in the new Comcast Center in downtown Philadelphia. The 975 ft (297 m) skyscraper is the tallest building in Pennsylvania. Comcast has begun construction on a second 1,121 ft (342 m) skyscraper directly adjacent to the original Comcast headquarters in the summer of 2014. [6]

Employee relations

The company is most often criticised by both the media and its own staff for its less upstanding policies regarding employee relations. A 2012 Reddit post written by an anonymous Comcast call centre employee eager to share their negative experiences with the public received attention from publications including The Huffington Post . [6] A 2014 investigative series published by The Verge involved interviews with 150 of Comcast's employees. It sought to examine why the company has become so widely criticised by its customers, the media and even members of its own staff. The series claimed part of the problem is internal and that Comcast's staff endures unreasonable corporate policies. According to the report: "customer service has been replaced by an obsession with sales; technicians are understaffed while tech support is poorly trained; and the company is hobbled by internal fragmentation." [6] A widely read article penned by an anonymous call centre employee working for Comcast appeared in November 2014 on Cracked . Titled "Five Nightmares You Live While Working For America's Worst Company," the article additionally claimed that Comcast is obsessed with sales, doesn't train its employees properly and concluded that "the system makes good customer service impossible." [6]

Comcast has additionally earned a reputation for being anti-union. According to one of the company's training manuals, "Comcast doesn't feel union representation is in the best interest of its employees, customers, or shareholders". [6] A dispute in 2004 with CWA , a labour union that represented a large number of employees at Comcast's offices in Beaverton, Oregon, led to allegations of management intimidating workers, requiring them to attend anti-union meetings and unwarranted disciplinary action for union members. [6] In 2011, Comcast received criticism from Writers Guild of America for its policies in regards to unions. [6]

Despite these criticisms, Comcast has appeared on multiple "top places to work" lists. In 2009, it was included on CableFAX magazine's "Top 10 Places to Work in Cable", which cited its "scale, savvy and vision". [6] Similarly, the Philadelphia Business Journal awarded Comcast the silver medal amongst extra-large companies in Philadelphia, with the gold medal going to partner organization, Comcast-Spectacor. [6] [41] The Boston Globe found Comcast to be that city's top place to work in 2009. [42] Employee diversity is additionally an attribute upon which Comcast receives strong marks. In 2008, Black Enterprise magazine rated Comcast amongst the top 15 companies for workforce diversity. [43] Comcast was additionally named a "Top 2014 Workplace" by the Washington Post in their annual feature. [44]

Financial performance

The book value of the company nearly doubled from $8.19 a share in 1999 to $15 a share in 2009. Revenues grew sixfold from 1999's $6 billion to almost $36 billion in 2009. Net profit margin rose from 4.2% in 1999 to 8.4% in 2009, with operating margins improving 31 percent and return on equity doubling to 6.7 percent in the same time span. Between 1999 and 2009, return on capital nearly tripled to 7 percent. [45] Comcast reported first quarter 2012 profit increases of thirty percent due to increase in high-speed internet customers. [46] In February 2014, Comcast generated 1.1 billion in revenue throughout the first quarter due to the Sochi Olympics ,. [47]

Lobbying and electoral fundraising

With $18.8 million spent in 2013, Comcast has the seventh largest lobbying budget of any individual company or organisation in the United States. [48] Comcast employs multiple former US Congressmen as lobbyists. [49] The National Cable & Telecommunications Association , which has multiple Comcast executives on its board, additionally represents Comcast and additional cable companies as the fifth largest lobbying organisation in the United States, spending $19.8 million in 2013. [48] Comcast was amongst the top backers of Barack Obama 's presidential runs, with Comcast vice president David Cohen raising over $2.2 million from 2007 to 2012. [50] [8] Cohen has been described by a large number of sources as influential in the US government, [8] though he's no longer a registered lobbyist, as the time he spends lobbying falls short of the twenty percent which requires official registration . [8] Comcast's PAC , the Comcast Corporation and NBCUniversal Political Action Committee, is the amongst the largest PACs in the US, raising about $3.7 million from 2011-2012 for the campaigns of various candidates for office in the United States Federal Government . [8] Comcast is additionally a major backer of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association Political Action Committee, which raised $2.6 million from 2011-2012. [8] [8] Comcast spent the most money of any organisation in support of the Stop Online Piracy and PROTECT IP bills, spending roughly $5 million to lobby for their passage. [8]

Comcast additionally backs lobbying and PACs on a regional level, backing organisations like the Tennessee Cable Telecommunications Association [8] and the Broadband Communications Association of Washington PAC. [8] Comcast and additional cable companies have lobbied state governments to pass legislation restricting or banning individual cities from offering public broadband service. [8] Municipal broadband restrictions of varying scope have been passed in a total of 20 US States. [9]

Philanthropy

Comcast operates most of its philanthropic programmes through its charitable arm, the Comcast Foundation. The organisation is particularly focused on minority groups, like the Hispanic National Council of La Raza . In 2014, the foundation reported grants totaling over $591,000 to nonprofits in parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, and West Virginia. [9]

Outside the Comcast Foundation, Comcast offers free or low cost internet to a large number of low income households through a programme called "Internet Essentials". Comcast additionally has run trials for this programme for senior citizens in Florida, and for college students in Chicago and Denver.

Comcast offers low cost internet and cable service to schools, subsidised by general broadband consumers through the US government's E-Rate program. [9] Critics have noted that a large number of of the strongest supporters of Comcast's business deals have received substantial funding from the Comcast Foundation. [49] [9]

History

American Cable Systems

In 1963, Ralph J. Roberts in conjunction with his two business partners, Daniel Aaron [9] and Julian A. Brodsky , purchased American Cable Systems [66] as a corporate spin-off from its parent, Jerrold Electronics , for US $500,000. At the time, American Cable was a small cable operator in Tupelo, Mississippi , with five channels and 12,000 customers. [9] Storecast Corporation of America, a product placement supermarket specialist marketing firm, was purchased by American Cable in 1965. With Storecast being a Muzak client, American Cable purchased its first Muzak franchise of a large number of in Orlando, Florida. [66]

Comcast

The company was re-incorporated in Pennsylvania in 1969, under the new name Comcast Corporation . [66] The name "Comcast" is a portmanteau of the words "Communication" and "Broadcast". [9] Comcast's initial public offering occurred on June 29, 1972, with a market capitalization of US $3,010,000. [66] [9] In 1977, HBO is first launched on a Comcast system with 20,000 customers in western Pennsylvania with a five-night free preview getting a fifteen percent sign up rate. [66]

Comcast bought twenty-six percent of Group W Cable in 1986, doubling its number of subscribers to 1 million. [9] [71] Also that year, Comcast made a founding investment of $380 million in QVC . [66]

Although Comcast lost a bidding war with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts to buy Storer Communications in 1985, in 1988, it was able to buy a fifty percent share of the company's assets in a joint deal with Tele-Communications Inc. . [72] Comcast additionally acquired American Cellular Network Corporation in 1988 for $230 million, [73] marking the first time it became a mobile phone operator . Comcast started its Comcast Cellular Communications division. [66]

Increasing market share (1990–2000)

In February 1990, Ralph Roberts' son, Brian L. Roberts , succeeded his father as president of Comcast. [74] Comcast Cellular purchased controlling interest in Metromedia 's Metrophone in 1992. [66]

In 1994, Comcast became the third-largest cable operator in the United States, with around 3.5 million subscribers following its purchase of Maclean-Hunter 's American division for $1.27 billion. [71] [75] The company's UK branch, Comcast UK Cable Partners, goes public while constructing a cable telecommunications network. With five additional media companies, the corporation becomes an original investor in The Golf Channel . [66] Following a bid in 1994 for $2.1 billion, Comcast increased its ownership of QVC from 15.5% of stock to a majority, in a move to prevent QVC from merging with CBS . [76] Comcast later sold its QVC shares in 2004 to Liberty Media for $7.9 billion. [77]

In October 1995, Comcast announced the purchase of the cable operation of E. W. Scripps Company for $1.575 billion in stock, a deal making Comcast the no. 3 cable company with 4.3 million customers. [78] Comcast offered internet connexion for the first time in 1996, with its part in the launch of the @Home Network . [79] When Excite@Home went bankrupt in 2002, Comcast took over providing internet directly to consumers. [80]

In 1996, Comcast Spectacor and Comcast SportsNet were formed as Comcast units. Comcast Spectacor by joining Ed Snider's Spectacor sports venture company and Comcast SportsNet as a Philadelphia region sports channel which launches in 1997. Microsoft invested $1 billion in Comcast in 1997. Also that year, Digital TV is rolled out by Comcast. In partnership with Disney, Comcast gets a 50.1 percent controlling interest in E! Entertainment . [66]

In February 1998, Comcast sold its UK division to NTL for US $600 million, along with the division's $397 million in debt. [10] Additionally, Comcast launched the Style Network . 1997 cable acquisitions were Jones Intercable, Inc. with 1 million customers and a stake in Prime Communications with 430,000 subscribers. [66]

Comcast sold Comcast Cellular to SBC Communications in 1999 for $400 million, releasing them from $1.27 billion in debt. [10] Comcast acquired Greater Philadelphia Cablevision in 1999. In March 1999, Comcast offered to buy MediaOne for $60 billion. [66] Notwithstanding MediaOne decided to accept AT&T Corporation 's offer of $62 billion instead. [10] Comcast University started in 1999 as well as Comcast Interactive Capital Group to make technology and Internet related investments taking its first investment in VeriSign. [66]

With AT&T Broadband in 1999, the company agreed to trade cable systems. The trade was completed in 2000 with Comcast gaining systems in Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. A trade was additionally completed with Adelphia thus receiving systems in Florida, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico and Pennsylvania. Lenfest Communications, Inc. with about 1.3 million cable subscribers, acquisition is closed. [66]

Largest US cable provider (2001–present)

In 2001, Comcast announced it would acquire the assets of the largest cable television operator at the time, AT&T Broadband , for US$44.5 billion. [84] The proposed name for the merged company was "AT&T Comcast", but the companies ultimately decided to keep only the Comcast name. In 2002, Comcast acquired all assets of AT&T Broadband, thus making Comcast the largest cable television company in the United States with over 22 million subscribers. [84] [85] This additionally spurred the start of Comcast Advertising Sales (using AT&T's groundwork) which would later be renamed Comcast Spotlight . As part of this acquisition, Comcast additionally acquired the National Digital Television Center in Centennial, Colorado as a wholly owned subsidiary, which is today known as the Comcast Media Center .

On February 11, 2004, Comcast announced a $54 billion bid for The Walt Disney Company , as well as taking on $12 billion of Disney's debt. The deal would have made Comcast the largest media conglomerate in the world. [86] [10] Notwithstanding after rejection by Disney and uncertain response from investors, the bid was abandoned in April. [88] The main reason for the buyout attempt was so that Comcast could acquire Disney's 80 percent stake in ESPN , which a Comcast executive called "the most important and valuable asset" that Disney owned. [10]

On April 8, 2005, a partnership led by Comcast and Sony Pictures Entertainment finalised a deal to acquire MGM and its affiliate studio, United Artists , and create an additional outlet to carry MGM/UA's material for cable and Internet distribution. [90] [91] On October 31, 2005, Comcast officially announced that it had acquired Susquehanna Communications a South Central Pennsylvania , -based cable television and broadband services provider and unit of the former Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff company, for $775 million cash. [92] [93] In this deal Comcast acquired approximately 230,000 basic cable customers, 71,000 digital cable customers, and 86,000 high-speed Internet customers. Comcast previously owned approximately 30 percent of Susquehanna Communications through affiliate company Lenfest. [92] In December 2005, Comcast announced the creation of Comcast Interactive Media , a new division focused on online media.

In July 2006, Comcast purchased the Seattle-based software company thePlatform . This represented an entry into a new line of business – selling software to allow companies to manage their Internet (and IP-based) media publishing efforts.

On April 3, 2007, Comcast announced it had entered into an agreement to acquire the cable systems owned and operated by Patriot Media, a privately held company owned by cable veteran Steven J. Simmons, Spectrum Equity Investors and Spire Capital, that serves approximately 81,000 video subscribers. Comcast will acquire Patriot for a net cash investment of approximately $483 million. [11] By acquiring the niche provider the deal will plug a hole in its central New Jersey service. [11]

Comcast announced in May 2007 [96] and launched in September 2008 a dashboard called SmartZone. [97] Hewlett-Packard led "design, creation and management". Collaboration and unified messaging technology came from open-source vendor Zimbra . [96] "SmartZone users will be able to send and receive e-mail, listen to their voicemail messages online and forward that information via e-mail to others, send instant messages and video instant messages and merge their contacts into one address book". [96] There is additionally Cloudmark spam and phishing protection and Trend Micro antivirus . [96] The address book is Comcast Plaxo software. [96]

In May 2008 Comcast purchased Plaxo for a reported $150 million to $170 million. [11]

Comcast won the Consumerist Worst Company In America ("Golden Poo") award in 2010. [11] A gold trophy in the shape of a pile of human feces was delivered to Comcast Corporate Headquarters to commemorate the unmatched level of enmity flowing from their customer base to their business. Competitor Verizon congratulated Comcast on their award via the Verizon Twitter feed. Comcast responded immediately by publicly acknowledging the dubious award, and citing ongoing efforts to improve its customer service. [11]

Adelphia purchase

In April 2005, Comcast and Time Warner Cable announced plans to buy the assets of bankrupted Adelphia Cable . [101] The two companies paid a total of $17.6 billion in the deal that was finalised in the second quarter of 2006—after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) completed a seven-month investigation without raising an objection. [102] Time Warner Cable became the second-largest cable provider in the U.S., ranking behind Comcast. As part of the deal, Time Warner and Comcast traded existing subscribers in order to consolidate them into larger geographic clusters. [12] [12]

In August 2006, Comcast and Time Warner dissolved a 50/50 partnership that controlled the systems in the Houston , Southwest Texas, San Antonio , and Kansas City markets under the Time Warner brand. After the dissolution, Comcast obtained the Houston system, and Time Warner retained the others. [12] On January 1, 2007, Comcast officially took control of the Houston system, but continued to operate under the Time Warner Cable brand until June 19, 2007.

NBCUniversal

Media outlets began reporting in late September 2009 that Comcast was in talks to buy NBCUniversal . Comcast denied the rumours at first, while NBC wouldn't comment on them. [12] Notwithstanding CNBC itself reported on October 1 that General Electric was considering spinning NBCUniversal off into a separate company that would merge the NBC television network and its cable properties like USA Network , Syfy and MSNBC with Comcast's content assets. GE would maintain 49 percent control of the new company, while Comcast owned 51%. [12] [12] Vivendi , which owns 20%, would have to sell its stake to GE. It was reported that under the current deal with GE that it would happen in November or December. [12] [12] It was additionally reported that Time Warner would be interested in placing a bid, until CEO Jeffrey L. Bewkes directly denied interest, [4] leaving Comcast the sole bidder. On November 1, 2009, The New York Times reported Comcast had moved closer to a deal to purchase NBCUniversal and that a formal announcement can be made sometime the following week. [4]

Following a tentative agreement on by December 1, [4] on December 3, 2009, the parties announced that Comcast would buy a controlling 51 percent stake in NBCUniversal for $6.5 billion in cash and $7.3 billion in programming. [112] [113] [4] GE would take over the remaining 49 percent stake in NBCUniversal, using $5.8 billion to buy out Vivendi 's twenty percent minority stake in NBCUniversal. [113] On January 18, 2011, the FCC approved the deal by a vote of 4 to 1. [4] [4] The sale was completed on January 28, 2011. [4] [4] In late December 2012, Comcast added the NBC peacock symbol to their new logo. [13] On February 12, 2013, Comcast announced an intention to acquire the remaining 49 percent of General Electric's interest in NBCUniversal, [13] [13] which Comcast completed on March 19, 2013. [17] [18] [13]

Time Warner Cable

On February 12, 2014, the Los Angeles Times reported that Comcast sought to acquire Time Warner Cable in a deal valued at $45.2 billion. [13] On February 13, it was reported that Time Warner Cable agreed to the acquisition. [13] This was to add several metropolitan areas to the Comcast portfolio, like New York City , Los Angeles , Dallas-Fort Worth , Cleveland , Columbus , Cincinnati , Charlotte , San Diego , and San Antonio . [13] Time Warner Cable and Comcast aimed to merge into one company by the end of 2014 and both have praised the deal, emphasising the increased capabilities of a combined telecommunications network, and to "create operating efficiencies and economies of scale". [13]

In 2014, critics expressed concern that the deal would give Comcast greater negotiating power in a number of areas, including rebroadcast fees with television channels, [13] and peering agreements with ISPs. [13]

Critics noted in 2013 that Tom Wheeler , the head of the FCC, which has to approve the deal, is the former head of both the largest cable lobbying organization, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association , and as largest wireless lobby, CTIA – The Wireless Association . [124] [125] According to Politico , Comcast "donated to almost every member of Congress who has a hand in regulating it." [126] The US Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the deal on April 9, 2014. [127] The House Judiciary Committee planned its own hearing. [128] On March 6, 2014 the United States Department of Justice Antitrust Division confirmed it was investigating the deal. [129] In March 2014, the division's chairman, William Baer, recused himself because he was involved in a prior Comcast NBCUniversal acquisition. [130] Several states' attorneys general have announced support for the federal investigation. [131] On April 24, 2015, Jonathan Sallet, general counsel of the F.C.C., said that he was going to recommend a hearing before an administrative law judge, equivalent to a collapse of the deal. [132]

In August 2015, Comcast announced to speed up Internet for low income customers from 5 megabits per second (mbps) to 10 Mbit/s, provide free wireless routers, and will pilot an initiative to increase Internet access for low-income senior citizens. [133] In September of that year Comcast additionally launched Watchable, a YouTube competitor. [134] The move was seen by Variety as an attempt to appeal to the cord cutting market. [134]

DreamWorks Animation

In April 2016, Comcast confirmed that its NBCUniversal division would acquire DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion. [135] [136]

Divisions and subsidiaries

Comcast Cable (Xfinity)

Comcast Cable is the cable television division of Comcast Corporation, providing cable television, broadband internet, and VOIP telephone under the Xfinity brand. Comcast Cable additionally provides connexions to small to medium-sized business through its Comcast Business brand, and Fortune 1000 companies through its Comcast Enterprise brand.

NBCUniversal

Comcast delivers third-party television programming content to its own customers, and additionally produces its own first-party content both for subscribers and customers of additional competing television services. Fully or partially owned Comcast programming includes Comcast Newsmakers, Comcast Network , Comcast SportsNet , SportsNet New York , MLB Network , Comcast Sports Southeast/Charter Sports Southeast , NBC Sports Network , The Golf Channel , AZN Television , and FEARnet . On May 19, 2009, Disney and ESPN announced an agreement to allow Comcast Corporation to carry the channels ESPNU and ESPN3 . [138] The U.S. Olympic Committee and Comcast intended to team up to create The U.S. Olympic Network, which was slated to launch after the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. [139] These plans were then put on hold by the U.S. Olympic Committee. [140] The U.S. Olympic Committee and Comcast have ended the plans to create The U.S. Olympic Network. [141]

Comcast's content networks and assets additionally include E! , Esquire Network , Golf Channel , NBCSN , Sprout , TV One , and the regional Comcast SportsNets . When Comcast took majority ownership in NBCUniversal, significant number of cable networks were added to this list. Comcast's NHL deal obligated them to create a U.S. version of NHL Network , launched in October 2007.

Comcast additionally owns a large number of local channels. Comcast additionally has a variety network known as Comcast Network , available exclusively to Comcast and Cablevision subscribers. The channel shows news, sports, and entertainment and places emphasis in Philadelphia and the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. areas, though the channel is additionally available in New York, Pittsburgh, and Richmond . In August 2004, Comcast started a channel called Comcast Entertainment Television , for Colorado Comcast subscribers, and focusing on life in Colorado. It additionally carries a few National Hockey League and National Basketball Association games when Altitude Sports & Entertainment is carrying the NHL or NBA. In January 2006, CET became the primary channel for Colorado's Emergency Alert System in the Denver Metro Area. In 2006, Comcast helped found the channel SportsNet New York , acquiring a minority stake. The additional partners in the project were New York Mets and Time Warner Cable .

Professional sports

In 1996, Comcast bought a controlling stake in Spectacor from the company's founder, Ed Snider. [142] Comcast-Spectacor holdings now include the Philadelphia Flyers NHL hockey team and two large multipurpose arenas in Philadelphia . Over a number of years, Comcast became majority owner of Comcast SportsNet , as well as Golf Channel and NBCSN (formerly the Outdoor Life Network, then Versus). In 2002, Comcast paid the University of Maryland $25 million for naming rights to the new basketball arena built on the College Park campus, the XFINITY Center . Before it was renamed for Comcast's cable subsidiary, XFINITY Center was called Comcast Center from its opening in 2002 through July 2014.

Venture capital

Comcast founded its first venture capital fund in January 1999, as Comcast Interactive Capital. [143] Around 2011, following the 2009 NBC Universal acquisition , Comcast Interactive Capital was merged with The Peacock Equity Fund , the venture capital subsidiary of NBCUniversal. [144] The combined company, Comcast Ventures, backs various companies like FanDuel [145] and Vox Media , [146] for example.

DreamWorks Animation

On April 28 2016, Comcast bought DreamWorks Animation , along with its major IPs including Shrek , How to Train Your Dragon , Kung Fu Panda , and Madagascar . [147] [148] [149] [150]

Criticism and controversy

In 2004 and 2007, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey found that Comcast had the worst customer satisfaction rating of any company or government agency in the country, including the Internal Revenue Service . The ACSI indicates that almost half of all cable customers (regardless of company) have registered complaints, and that cable is the sole industry to score below 60 in the ACSI. [152] Comcast's Customer Service Rating by the ACSI surveys indicate that the company's customer service hasn't improved after the surveys began in 2001. Analysis of the surveys states that "Comcast is one of the lowest scoring companies in ACSI. As its customer satisfaction eroded by seven percent over the past year, revenue increased by 12%." The ACSI analysis additionally addresses this contradiction, stating that "Such pricing power most of the time comes with a few level of monopoly protection and most cable companies have little competition at the local level. This additionally means that a cable company can do well financially even though its customers aren't particularly satisfied." [154] [156]

In April 2014, Comcast was awarded the 2014 "Worst Company in America" award; an annual contest by the consumer affairs blog The Consumerist that runs a series of reader polls to determine the least popular company in America. This was the second time Comcast had been awarded this title, the first being in 2010.

Comcast spends millions of dollars annually on government relationships. [157] Comcast employs the spouses, sons and daughters of mayors, councilmen, commissioners, and additional officials to guarantee its continued preferred market allocations. [158] [159] [160]

Comcast was given an "F" for its corporate governance practises in 2010, by Corporate Library, an independent shareholder-research organization. According to Corporate Library, Comcast's board of directors ability to oversee and control management was severely compromised (at least in 2010) by the fact that several of the directors either worked for the company or had business ties to it (making them susceptible to management pressure), and a third of the directors were over 70 years of age. According to the Wall Street Journal nearly two-thirds of the flights of Comcast's $40 million corporate jet purchased for business travel related to the NBCU acquisition, were to CEO Brian Roberts' private homes or to resorts. [161]

In January 2015, a customer named Ricardo Brown received a bill from Comcast with his name changed to "Asshole Brown". Brown's wife, Lisa, believed a Comcast employee changed the name in response to the Browns' request to cancel their cable service, an incident in which she was refused a cancellation unless she paid a $60 fee and instead was routed to a retention specialist. Comcast refused to correct the name on their bill after bringing it to the attention of numerous customer service outlets for the company by explaining that Ricardo is the legal name of the customer, so the Browns turned to consumer advocate Christopher Elliott. Elliott posted the facts of the incident, along with a copy of the bill, on his blog. Shortly thereafter, Elliott contacted Comcast and Comcast offered the Browns an apology, a $60 refund, and a promise to track down and fire the responsible employee. The Browns instead requested a full refund for their negative experience and Comcast agreed to refund the family the last two years of service and provide the next two years of service at no charge. Comcast released a statement explaining: "We have spoken with our customer and apologised for this completely unacceptable and inappropriate name change. We have zero tolerance for this type of disrespectful behaviour and are conducting a thorough investigation to determine what happened. We are working with our customer to make this right and will take appropriate steps to prevent this from happening again." [162]

On February 19, 2015 a Comcast customer-support representative was caught falsely telling a customer that the company is required by law to implement data caps . In a SoundCloud recording posted on Reddit, the Comcast agent, named Lionel, can be heard telling the customer, "Every Internet service provider has data caps. It is mandated by the law." [163]