Comcast performance dissed in City of Philadelphia report

One of Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) stronger non-cable allies, the City of Philadelphia, has issued a 571-page report that leaves little doubt that the municipality feels there's room for its biggest corporate resident to improve the way it does business in the City of Brotherly Love.

Comcast Philly

Comcast responded to the city report with a reminder of its economic impact. (Source: Comcast blog)

The report the city commissioned from consulting firm CBG found that 26 percent of Comcast subscribers are dissatisfied with their service and that satisfaction levels ranged from 1 to 11 percent lower than Comcast franchise areas in other selected markets, a Philadelphia press release stated. The report was commissioned as part of a review process taking place as Comcast's 15-year franchise agreement nears its end later this year.

Customer dissatisfaction is only part of the equation, Mayor Michael Nutter said in the press release, specifically citing the need for expanded high-speed broadband services.

"Our city's future success related to everyone being connected to the Internet and the marketplace of ideas and products," Nutter said. "Comcast is a vital partner in helping Philadelphia achieve that level of success."

While declining to disclose the city's negotiating strategy, the press release laid out some things Philadelphia will implement, including establishing an office of four or five individuals "with technical, telecommunications, accounting and cable franchise expertise" as part of an expanded Cable Franchise Authority office. The city also will require stronger customer service standards and a remediation program to address code compliance issues and a fiber-based infrastructure for city government.

On top of everything else, the CBG report found "maintenance and code compliance failures."

Comcast responded with an extensive blog posting--complete with graphics and charts--authored by LeAnn Talbot, regional senior vice president-freedom region of Comcast Cable and David Cohen, EVP of Comcast Corp.

The posting, titled "A Philadelphia Love Story, maintained that the city's report is part of the "back-and-forth" of franchise renewal discussions and that Comcast is a committed to "giving back to our great city and home."

The MSO, which is headquartered in Philadelphia's tallest building, "has grown into a Fortune 50 company, the only one with that recognition headquartered in the city (and) provided tens of thousands of Philadelphians with well-paying jobs," the blog posting stated. In total, it said, Comcast employs more than 8,000 workers at its headquarters and other city locations and contributes $13 billion in operations and related activity to the city.

"As we move forward with our franchise renewal negotiations, we can tell you confidently and proudly that our relationship with the city has never been stronger," the blog posting concluded.

Talbot showed a bit less acceptance of the report at a city press conference where she called the report "flawed" before being cut off by an aide who declined further comment, Philadelphia Magazine reported.

For more:
- read this Philadelphia City press release
- see the city's report
- read this Comcast blog posting
- read this Philadelphia Magazine story

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