Comcast says it agrees with the President on net neutrality … to a point

While the NCTA and a number of its cable-industry constituents have registered shock and dismay regarding President Obama's forceful backing of Title II Internet regulation on Monday, the nation's No. 1 cable operator has struck a more conciliatory response.

"What is remarkable is that if you compare the President's articulation of his vision for net neutrality as set forth in the White House talking points released yesterday afternoon, we are on record as agreeing with every point," executive VP David Cohen wrote Tuesday in a blog post titled: "Surprise! We Agree with the President's Principles on Net Neutrality."

Cohen said Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) agrees on restrictions of blocking, throttling and paid prioritization, as well as increasing transparency.

But the conglomerate draws the line on having the Federal Communications Commission regulate broadband under Title II.

"The policy the White House laid out yesterday would jeopardize this engine for job creation and investment as well as the innovation cycle that the Internet has generated," Cohen wrote. "In fact, the White House itself recognized in its Broadband Report released last year that a light touch approach to regulation has fostered innovation and investment."

Comcast's tempered response to the president's Monday declaration came as several investment analysts downplayed the financial impact of the regulatory plan on MSOs.

Morgan Stanley's Benjamin Swinburne said a ban on blocking and throttling, as well as the provision of increased transparency, "would have essentially no impact on the outlook of broadband revenue growth."

The effect of the ban on paid prioritization, meanwhile, would also have a negligible impact, Swinburne says, since investors have "effectively zero future revenue expectations" for so-called Internet "fast lanes."

Bernstein Research's Paul de Sa, meanwhile, downplayed this week's negative stock-market reaction, noting that the president is not asking the FCC to regulate pricing.

"The downturn in cable stocks is based on the mistaken assumption that [reclassification] is synonymous with price regulation," de Sa wrote. "That likely represents a buying opportunity [for investors]."

For more:
- read this Comcast corporate blog post
- read this Deadline Hollywood story
- read this other Deadline Hollywood story
- read this GigaOm story

Related links:
President Obama throws support behind the FCC's Title II broadband reclassification option
AT&T's Stephenson appeals directly to FCC's Wheeler to not reclassify broadband under Title II
Net neutrality: Netflix says fast-lane fees to Comcast are 150% more than cost of transport
FCC's Wheeler proposes two-tier net neutrality plan for broadband services
FCC flooded with over 3M comments about net neutrality rules

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