Comcast Exec Who Failed At Time Warner Cable Merger Gets Boost To Annual Bonus

When your cable and Internet bill goes up, at least know that Comcast Dave is being rewarded well for a job not done.

When your cable and Internet bill goes up, at least know that Comcast Dave is being rewarded well for a job not done.

If you succeed at being the gladhanding, politically connected Beltway insider who can sweet-talk regulators and legislators into approving an outrageously anticompetitive $45 billion merger of the nation’s two largest cable and Internet providers, then you probably deserve a raise. But if you fail at that job and you work for Comcast, you apparently still get more money.

Multichannel News noted that a recent Comcast regulatory filing [PDF] includes news about the cable giant re-upping its contract with Senior Executive VP and Chief Diversity Officer David “Don’t Call Me A Lobbyist” Cohen.

The exec’s base pay will remain the same, but “his annual cash bonus opportunity will increase to 250% of base salary for 2016 (based on the achievement of performance goals).”

That’s in addition to his $1.28 million a year in deferred compensation contributions and $3 million in stock that will vest between now and when his contract comes up again in 2020.

You may remember it was Cohen, and not Comcast CEO/scion Brian Roberts, who made the public case for the company’s ultimately doomed merger with Time Warner Cable.

With a straight face, he told lawmakers in 2014 that there are a “vast number of competitive choices” for consumers in the pay-TV market (while tacitly omitting the fact that this is not true for the broadband Internet access market, which now comprises the larger part of Comcast’s customer base).

Though Comcast and Cohen proudly talked up the efficiencies and cost savings that would come from a TWC merger, he steadfastly refused to commit to passing those savings on to customers. Cohen would only say, “There’s nothing in this transaction that will cause cable bills to go up.”

At that same hearing Cohen wouldn’t say whether Comcast would continue to abide by the 2010 net neutrality rules that were a condition of its merger with NBC. Again, he deflected by noting that the FCC was in the process of drafting revised neutrality rules and saying, “I can’t imagine the commission isn’t going to have those rules in place before 2018.”

Except he was off by about three years, as those new rules were approved and enacted in the first half of 2015.

Speaking of net neutrality, Cohen was the well-paid wordsmith behind Comcast blog posts, like the one declaring that no other company supported neutrality more than Comcast, and the one where he wrote that Comcast agreed with the White House’s stance on neutrality (except in all the ways that actually matter).

Cohen’s attempts to spin data to Comcast’s benefit often fell flat, like when he tried to argue that the Comcast/TWC merger would have no impact on broadband competition because “Every consumer in America will have the same choices among broadband providers after this transaction as before.”

All that statement did was bolster opponents’ position that there is a lack of competition in the marketplace and that the merger would be of no benefit to consumers.

Cohen — the same guy who somehow managed to convince the FCC and Justice Department to approve the 2010 acquisition of NBC (and then offered a big paycheck to one of the FCC commissioners who helped push that deal through) — wasn’t just a failure in public forums. His attempts to win over regulators also resulted in more raised eyebrows.

Like trying to use the FCC’s own data to pull one over on the FCC.

The VP told regulators that a merged Comcast/TWC would only control about 35% of the U.S. broadband market, as opposed to the 50% estimate calculated by merger critics. Thing is, he fudged the numbers by lumping in slow DSL service that didn’t even qualify as broadband at the time Cohen made the argument.

While the merger was still pending, Cohen didn’t help Comcast win over support from consumers by saying things like all Comcast markets would have data caps within five years, or telling the people of Philadelphia — Comcast’s hometown — that they were lying about their experiences with the company’s billing and customer service departments.

Here’s to another five years of Cohencast, may his reign be bountiful.


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