Comcast Stacks FCC Hearing Seats With Sleepy Shills

Comcast admitted to paying its employees to sit in at a F.C.C. hearing on net neutrality at the Harvard Law School today, depriving angry protesters from their right to sit in those folding chairs. Despite the venue being filled to over capacity, keeping some people from entering, not everyone inside seemed appreciative of their privilege. One Comcast employee admitted on tape, “I’m just getting paid to hold someone’s seat, I don’t even know what’s going on.” According to, the Comcast employees, “arrived en masse some 90 minutes before the hearing began and occupied almost every available seat, upon which many promptly fell asleep.” The stacked audience’s behavior was limited to wearing a yellow highlighter, sleeping during the proceedings, and loudly applauding when Comcast VP David Cohen got on the mic.

Comcast PR rep Jen Khoury told Portfolio, Comcast informed our local employees about the hearing and invited them to attend… Some employees did attend, along with many members of the general public,” adding that, “For the past week, the Free Press has engaged in a much more extensive campaign to lobby people to attend the hearing on its behalf.”

Whichever side you believe, one thing is for certain: Comcast employees are very tired (exhibit A, exhibit B).


Edit Your Comment

  1. pinkfreud says:

    wow that’s one way to one up the protester

  2. snazz says:

    where can i sign up for comcast service?

  3. bravo369 says:

    for a company that is professing they did nothing wrong, they really aren’t showing it. I hope they get smacked hard by the FCC and i hope this little stunt makes the real voices come out even hard and louder against comcast.

  4. lightaugust says:

    I hope they don’t think they need to pull unfair stunts like this to win Worst Company of the Year 2008… they’re going to do just fine on their own. Have a little faith in yourselves, Comcast!

  5. adamondi says:

    Just what exactly would the angry protesters be able to do from the audience? Was there an open floor? Would audience members have had a chance to pose questions or lob accusations at the Comcast executives?

  6. pinkfreud says:

    they’re stoned. not sleepy. weednaps

  7. axiomatic says:

    Lame… oh and LAME!!

  8. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    Its Comcast. What do you expect?

  9. dandd says:

    What a dumbass move for such a large company. Did they really think that no one would notice? In this day and age with the internet if you do something dumb, you are going to get called on it.

    Just more fuel for the fire. Good job Comcast!

  10. dotorg greg says:

    This has to be the most immediately, obviously stupid PR move I’ve ever seen. Did someone at Comcast actually think how this would play out before they bused in all their techs’ roommates?

  11. dotorg greg says:

    @dotorg greg: jinx12345678910 padlock, btw.

  12. lilkeith7 says:

    I hate comcast. With 10 minutes left in the show I was watching last night the tv froze and then there was “no signal” from comcast for a good 10-15 mins. Maybe they should have had their workers actually working so that wouldn’t haven’t happened.

  13. urban_ninjya says:

    As a business move / legal manuevering.. GENIUS!!!

    Too bad they got caught.

  14. Yogambo says:

    Might it be illegal for a company being sort of investigated at a public hearing to try and pack the room to prohibit free expression from those that the hearing was supposed to benefit? It seems like if it’s not an illegal action it is such a dirty trick that it — in and of itself — should merit an FCC response. It’s disgusting. Someone should get hold of one of those wholly satisfied employees of Comcast and see if they weren’t just ‘encouraged’ but perhaps compensated in some way or even threatened; maybe something like ‘you can bill for your attendance at this event.’

  15. Yogambo says:

    Sorry, responded from the gut. They do admit it, which just has to be illegal. If not, why the hell not?

  16. mandarin says:

    I thought this was expected. A company like Comcast will definitely do something this loathsome.

  17. Wow, I think that’s honestly worst than what they pulled sitting in front of Congress a few months back..

  18. shadow735 says:

    @snazz:that is so awesome in a sickeninly way, heh heh. to bad they didnt pass out pillows that would have rocked!!

  19. Amelie says:

    How does doing what is common practice, “genius?”
    I guess it would be too much to ask people to look at the article.

    Such tactics are not unheard of at congressional hearings in Washington, D.C.”

    Considering this bullshit appears to be legal, I would say that’s the bigger problem.

  20. girthagain says:

    Unions do this all the time. Here in Atlanta they pay the homeless to picket hotels.

  21. BrianH says:

    @bravo369: Right on brother (or sister).

  22. Sonnymooks says:


    First thing I thought off, looks like Comcast can learn a few things from people, and in this case applied it.

  23. mac-phisto says:

    why were people given the option to enter the hearing before others? that just screams of democracy now, doesn’t it?

  24. Anonymous says:

    Cablevision pulled this same thing at a public hearing with the MTA here in NYC a few years ago. A staffing agency I worked for was hired to have people stand in line outside a hearing regarding the West Side Stadium project. We mainly held places in line for Cablevision employees (we showed up around 5AM, the hearing started around 9). Cablevision owns Madison Square Garden so I suppose they had an interest in a competing sports venue opening up just a few blocks away. I’m not exactly proud of this, but hey, I was a poor college student and it was a quick buck.

  25. zsouthboy says:

    *This* makes me very, very angry.

    I can’t believe the tenacity of these fuckers.

    Comcast can DIAF.

  26. forgottenpassword says:


    This actually happens a lot at public hearings, town hall meetings etc. etc.

    Its a dispicable practice.

  27. ivanthemute says:

    I’ve got to agree with all the comments that this is a really crappy practice, but let me ask, what if the Comcast folks had come of their own volition? Would there be such an uproar if they came on their own time and own dime and still flooded the auditorium?

  28. spinachdip says:

    @forgottenpassword: It’s dispicable, but the right to assembly is protected by the Consitution, and I believe Comcast’s practice falls under that right. Public meetings should be open to anyone, no matter how cynical their intent. I’m not okay with it, but as long as they’re not intimidating the protesters and merely more organized, it should be allowed. Of course, in the age of blogs, whatever they gain from packing public meetings *should* be outweighed by the negative PR.

  29. urban_ninjya says:

    @zouxou: It’s news to me. If I ever find myself in a courtroom or some other situation where I’m examined by a comittee, I’m bringing a cheerleading squad.

  30. TPK says:

    With RIAA out of the headlines lately, Comcast will be a shoe-in for the worst company in America this year.

  31. vw195 says:

    Give Sprint a chance.

  32. cccdude says:


    What’s next – Walmart sending it’s employees to buy all the sale merchandise at K-Mart???

  33. rdldr1 says:

    I have RCN. Yay NFL Network!

  34. lightaugust says:

    @ivanthemute: If that had happened, it wouldn’t have made blog-news. And, yeah, that’s a nice hypothetical, but it absolutely matters. Underneath it, they’re filling spaces those spaces so that those who want to actively participate in the process can’t do it. If they’re participating in the democracy, it really would be one thing. Paying someone to prevent someone else from doing it is another. Not illegal, but wrong. If the hearing is that damned important, next time those folks writing the checks can all get on the Comcastic Express and fill the space themselves.

  35. coold8 says:

    I love this! Props to comcast for such a great idea! lol.

  36. ChristopherDavis says:

    It’s just the meatspace equivalent of forged RST packets.

  37. Blackneto says:

    Comcast just took over cable from Insight in this area through some kind of weirdness.

    I haven’t noticed any issues of service yet, but I’m seriously thinking of going back to DSL.

  38. mac-phisto says:

    @ivanthemute: i wouldn’t be pissed. comcast employees do have an interest in the company’s business, so they have every right to be at the meeting, but i know if i was running that hearing & there weren’t enough seats for everybody, i’d be directing the a/v folks to set up the dias outside.

    yes, it’s f-ing cold up here right now, so an outside hearing isn’t entirely conducive to debate either, but at least it would keep the shills awake.

  39. mantari says:

    Stay classy, Comcast.
    Star classy.

  40. mantari says:

    Come on, though. Do any of you REALLY have a reason to complain? They were just managing the traffic to the event and prioritizing the seating arrangements so that others would not be taking more than their fair share of seats.

    Comcast is a capitalist company that can do whatever they want, and you don’t have to like it. God bless America!!!

  41. soulman901 says:

    I smell a rat in here. GET HIM!!!

  42. soulman901 says:

    I would be calling up a DSL Provider right now if comcast came in and took over.
    I will sleep warm tonight with my Internet provided to me by Cox Communications.

  43. Dashrashi says:

    @mantari: Oh, I have a reason to complain. They’re the assholes that ate all the bagels, which were NOT THERE FOR GUESTS, but rather for the STUDENTS who have class in the same building. Mondays are bagel days, yo. And by the time I got to school, all the bagels were already eaten! It was 10:00 and there weren’t any bagels left, and the meeting wasn’t ’til 11. My mind, it was blown, as there are usually still some bagels left at 11:30. So now I know the Comcast people were the ones who were there early enough to eat all the goddamned bagels.

    Talk about despicable. I didn’t bring a granola bar to class because it was bagel day! I went hungry so these seat-packers could get a free breakfast! I really have the distinct feeling my rights were violated here.

  44. ninjatales says:

    Nobody used colorful markers on their faces as they slept?

  45. scoosdad says:

    Any Comcast insiders out there willing to leak an internal memo or email “asking” employees to show up at this hearing? Now that would be interesting to see.

    C’mon all you Comcast people in Chelmsford MA, I know you can do it!

  46. cliffordmanning says:

    @Dashrashi: Damn, I totally feel ya! I get angry when I go to Dillons and there aren’t any jalapeno n’ cheese bagels left.
    @Comcast: Good lord! I’m glad I have Cox!

  47. cliffordmanning says:

    BTW, has anybody ever had problems with Cox? I’ve had nothing but amazing experiences, so I’m just curious.

  48. RagingTowers says:

    @cliffordmanning: So if I’m reading this correctly…

    You love cox…

  49. Nighthawke says:

    That is so stupid of the excecs to pull that kind of stunt, they so need to be put out of their miser.

  50. vastrightwing says:

    I’m glad to see Comcast taking this “very seriously”

  51. clint07 says:

    @CliffordManning I have had nothing but trouble with Cox including: their tech’s showing up 3 hours after a 4 hour window and leaving with my equipment prior to me signing anything, causing me to be charged for the equipment even after calling and being told that they would make a note not charge me.

    Then when opening an account (it was the only option in my apartment building) they created 2 accounts (1 at the correct address and 1 at the wrong address) and then shipped all of my equipment to the wrong address. When I called to find out what was going on they had no idea how to close the account with the wrong address because I had equipment out on that account. Then they started sending me bills for the wrong account (but sending them to the correct address).

    Plus I think I am forgetting a few things because I know they screwed up my bill a few other times.

  52. ToddGR says:

    Come on, really. They paid people to hold a place in line. That’s it. It happens all the time, especially at FCC hearings, which never start on time. Let’s get over it.