Cable Company Fuckery

John Oliver and his new show Last Week Tonight has become Sunday night entertainment in my house. He’s simultaneously brilliant and hilarious.

Oliver took on Net Neutrality on Sunday. Due to my cable connection being down, I didn’t see it until Monday when I was able to watch it on my DVR. He started off by reminding us that American’s simply don’t respond to “boring” so he suggested we change the phrase “Net Neutrality” to “Cable Company Fuckery.” He then goes on to explain, in clear and outstanding prose while being hysterically funny, exactly what is going on.

If you are perplexed by Net Neutrality and are having trouble parsing the discussion, just watch this. If you want to laugh your ass off, watch this. And then take the requested action at the end.

Boing Boing has a good set up cribnotes up on their post It’s not Net Neutrality that’s at stake, it’s Cable Company Fuckery. The snippets they highlighted (a few of many) were:

– On Internet Fast Lanes: “If we let cable companies offer two speeds of service, they won’t be Usain Bolt and Usain Bolt on a motorbike. They’ll be Usain Bolt and Usain Bolted-to-an-anchor.”

– On the Rare Cooperation Between Consumer Advocates & Major Tech Companies: “What’s being proposed is so egregious, activists and corporations have been forced onto the same side. That’s basically Lex Luthor knocking on Superman’s apartment door and going, ‘Listen, I know we have our differences but we have got to get rid of that asshole in apartment 3-B.”

– On the Appointment of Former Cable/Wireless Industry Front Man Tom Wheeler As FCC Chair: “The guy who used to run the cable industry’s lobbying arm is now running the agency tasked with regulating it. That is the equivalent of needing a babysitter and hiring a dingo.”

– On the Notion that the Comcast/TWC Merger is Okay Because the Companies Don’t Overlap: “You can’t reduce competition when nobody is competing. You could not be describing a monopoly more clearly if you were wearing a metal while driving a metal car after winning second prize in a beauty contest.”

  • Doyle Albee

    John Oliver is brilliant! I read that the FCC site actually experienced outages from the traffic he generated with this piece. Let’s keep it up! Thanks, Brad!

    • My guess is the FCC is suffering from a DDOS attack, not load from the show, but it makes for a good sound bite.

      • Za Ch is probably the most popular campaign group I know for Canada

  • That Netflix download speed chart is very, very interesting. Mob shakedown indeed!

  • If it is good for Comcast it is bad for us. Used to have Time Warner cable in NYC. It was beyond something invented in the old Soviet Union. Everyone in the company seemed to have majored in lying. Of course TW Cable got the NYC franchise by bribing. I wonder if things have changed much?

  • JMN

    That’s awesome. Serious message we must collectively act upon. Hilarious delivery.

  • Oliver reminds me of a civilized Bill Mahr. I can’ stand either. I consider myself to be just a little bit right of center politically. Both of these shows a fairly liberal in there views. There are just too many jokes that I don’t consider that funny.

    • Everyone gets to choose their own sense of humor.

  • Andrew Parker

    Brad – thanks for posting this. You’re right – it’s hilarious but very thought-provoking


    If you feel you are in an abusive relationship then it’s your responsibility to get out! Why not go outside and ride a bike or go fishing or sit by a lake and write a poem or take your significant other on a picnic?

    • I do something like that every day.


        Awesome! Now you just need to get out of that abusive relationship with cable. We’re here to support you. You can call us to talk if you need to. 🙂

  • LOVE this video! Also a great reminder that I need to cut our ties with Comcast and switch to WOW — a local, Midwest provider:

  • That Jon Oliver is brilliant. I saw a decent infographic a while back that contrasted what the providers want it to be for vs. what the rest of us want…

  • gethoht

    Unless ISP’s get classified as common carriers and regulated as such this kind of tomfoolery will continue. The only way out I see is mesh wifi networks like Ubiquiti’s world network concept.


      Mesh can also make internet access free to all.

  • That video was brilliant!

  • James Mitchell


    Question for the group — If the FCC rules the wrong way, could Congress overturn the FCC’s decision?

    • I have no confidence in Congress agreeing on anything right now.

    • It’s technically possible but not likely. Even if they do provide legislation with an alternate interpretation the president can still veto….given his track record and the complexity of the issue it’s not a given he would support net neutrality that doesn’t have some sort of fast lane/slow lane provision built into it (though it would probably be called something else). It would be very surprising if a significant number of members of Congress had either the patience or desire to deal with this in a substantial way given the upcoming mid-term elections and jockeying for 2016 already starting.

      Also, the courts would still have the ability to look at any legislation and determine that the decision belongs in the hands of the FCC. There is a fairly established precedent by the courts (including SP) that federal regulatory agencies can consider varying interpretations over time and revise policy appropriately (most recently the Brand X Internet services case from 2005). For anyone interested, Public Knowledge summarizes the entire issue well (and if you choose to, provides some clear talking points for comment to the FCC):

  • kermit64113

    I am late to the comment party, and I am not enamored with the cable industry (or Verizon/ Qwest/ AT&T/ Frontier). But, as a former Sprint exec who worked directly with cable companies (and knew the regulatory references in the video by heart), there’s a core issue that is at the heart of the matter: value creation. Excluding gains from Facebook (which has a market cap of $160 billion), but including dividends, Amazon+Google+Apple+Microsoft have created more than $280 billion in shareholder value over the past 1.5 and $340 billion in value over the past 2.5 years ($58.33 billion in 2012, $219.44 billion in 2013, and $62.25 billion thus far in 2014) than the entire telecom+cable industry. Including Facebook’s market capitalization, that number is a staggering $500 billion.

    These aren’t piddly numbers, and without faster (and consumer-paid) Internet, the growth assumptions underlying the success of Xbox/ Skype/ Hangouts/ Amazon Instant vanish. And with it goes the value of many 401(k) balances across the country. Whether cable deserves it or not, they want to balance the massive half trillion dollar value shift that has occurred over the past 2.5 years.

    And if they don’t get it, get ready for bandwidth caps – just like what happened in the wireless industry after the advocates went after net neutrality requirements in the last spectrum auctions. (re: prior to LTE rollouts, we did not have MORE Everything and Share plans). Be careful what you wish for. – Jim Patterson