RUSH: How many of you have heard that Comcast, the big cable network, was going to end up owning 51% of NBC? The regulators have been working on a deal. It was supposed to be finalized in December but it wasn’t until now. ‘Federal regulators approved Comcast Corp.’s takeover of a 51 percent stake NBC Universal on Tuesday after more than a year of review. They imposed various conditions on the nation’s largest cable TV provider, including those that would protect the burgeoning Internet video marketplace and promote the spread of broadband Internet access.
‘Among the conditions imposed by [federal] regulators, Comcast must…’ Listen to this now: ‘Make available to 2.5 million low income households: high-speed Internet access for less than $10 per month; personal computer, netbooks or other equipment for less than $150; and an array of digital literacy opportunities.’ This is the regime. For 51% of NBC, Comcast has to ‘Make available to 2.5 million low income households: high-speed Internet access for less than $10 per month;’ that means everybody else’s prices are gonna skyrocket, ‘personal computer, netbooks or other equipment for less than $150.’ Does that mean if you want an iPad or a computer, you can go to Comcast and get one? I didn’t know they sold them. This is welfare. This is digital welfare. ‘[A]nd an array of digital literacy opportunities.’ What in the heck is a digital literacy opportunity? They must also ‘Maintain or increase local programming at its 10 NBC and 16 Telemundo TV stations,’ and they must ‘Increase children’s programming.’ Whoa.
RUSH: Charles in Kansas City, Missouri, great to have you. You’re next on the Rush Limbaugh program. Hi.
CALLER: Yes, hi. Mega dittos, Rush.
RUSH: Thank you.
CALLER: Great to talk to you.
RUSH: Thank you very much, sir.
CALLER: I want to go back to much earlier in the show you were talking about the Comcast, taking over 51% of NBC, I believe it was. I believe you might have missed a valid — or very important — point, and that was not only do they have to follow these federal regulations, but they also have to, well…pay for it. They have to buy 51% of this company. And it’s kind of like me going out and buying a house and the previous owner telling me, ‘Well, by the way, you can’t change any of the colors, and there is a bunch of mice living in the house, and you gotta put out cheese for ’em every day out of your own pocket.’
RUSH: Wait a minute, now. Where are you getting that? From what I reported… No, I don’t ‘report.’ From what I told you, where are you getting that Comcast can’t change NBC?
CALLER: Well, I’m not saying that they can’t. My point is they have to follow what the federal regulations are. But not only just follow that, they still also have to… They’re buying the 51%. It’s theirs, but yet there’s all these regulations put on them by someone else when it’s theirs. Just another show of how they want to tell us how we should live and how we should run our lives.
RUSH: Yeah, well here’s the story: ‘Comcast has been permitted to buy 51% of NBC from General Electric.’ General Electric is getting rid of 51% of NBC Universal. That’s controlling interest. The regulators said: If we let you do this, you are going to have to make available to 2-1/2 million low-income households high-speed Internet access for less than $10 a month, only to the poor. Also to the poor, you’re going to have to make available personal computers, netbooks, iPads, and other equipment for less than $150; and then ‘an array of digital literacy opportunities.’ Then you must ‘maintain or increase local programming at the ten NBC and 16 Telemundo TV stations,’ and you must ‘increase children’s programming, including adding 1500 more on-demand titles’ through your movie repertoire.
So they are dabbling a little bit there into content. But it doesn’t say that they can’t do anything to NBC News. It doesn’t say, for example… Let me just stir it up a little bit, here. It doesn’t say that they can’t touch MSNBC. It doesn’t say that at all. I mean, they have to give away Internet service to the poor and computers and netbooks and all that stuff. (interruption) Well, no, they could. They could shut down MSNBC. They could change the programming. They could. They could turn it into Shopping Channel 14. Who knows? They could do anything they want with it. They could certainly. They’re not prohibited from trying to get an audience.
NBC has decreed that MSNBC will not have an audience, by virtue of its programming. Comcast has not been saddled with that corporate decision. If Comcast wants to get an audience on MSNBC, they’re free to try. That would require significant content change. It has been well established that they’ve topped out audience-wise at MSNBC, doing what they’re doing. I don’t know how they implement the giveaway to the poor. I, frankly, don’t know that they do. I just know that it says here they have to and the fact that somebody says you have to and they say, ‘Okay, we will,’ that could satisfy everybody (chuckles) since we live in a perception-versus-reality world.
So Comcast says, ‘Okay, we’ll do it. We’ll hand stuff out. We’ll make sure we give away high-speed Internet access for less than $10 a month to low-income people and we’re gonna define ‘low-income’ people as a $100,000 or whatever.’ I don’t know that we’ll ever know how they’re doing this unless they run a PR campaign — You know, a parade of people living in boxcars. (interruption) Well, now, Snerdley, we don’t know. We don’t know. (interruption) No, we don’t yet. Snerdley is saying, ‘Watch what political districts these giveaways end up in.’ We don’t know that yet. We don’t know that that’s been mandated. We don’t know.
The story that we have here does not say that the high-speed Internet at low cost or the personal computers or netbooks, other equipment, can only go to low income Democrat districts. It doesn’t say that. Now, Comcast might do that just to keep the regulators off their back down the line. It doesn’t say they have to. You might have a whole different attitude about this. You might be wrong about the corporate thinking at Comcast. (sigh) Yes, it’s a giveaway and it’s welfare, but this is a cost of doing business, as far as Comcast is concerned. Let’s just keep a sharp eye… (interruption) Of course it’s extortion, but let’s just keep a sharp… (interruption)
I know it’s Democrats. It’s regime regulators demanding all this. And so it’s probably been stated but not written. By the way, these netbooks are already gonna be programmed. The startup screen will be the Obama logo (laughing) and it’s true, Comcast’s political donations are almost all to Democrats and Democrat causes, but I don’t know for how many years. I don’t know how much of that was part of the deal to get this thing approved. We’ll have to wait and see. Let’s wait and see what they do with MSNBC. That’s just one thing: Just wait and see what they do with that. Let me tell you this: My history, experience in broadcasting — years of experience guided by an above average intelligence — tell me if I work there, I’d be a little nervous.
I have a new owner coming in that just spent beaucoup bucks, and I work at a losing division. I work at a loss leader division, and I know that that network exists because the GE CEO had to pay a price to get all the goodies coming back from Washington to GE. Now, if I’m Comcast, do I want to keep that gravy train going? Am I in a business where I want goodies from Washington that keep redounding to my benefit at Comcast? Okay, I’ll keep MSNBC as it is. I’ll look the other way and hold my nose. I’ll write it off, I’ll use it as a loss leader.’
Or I’ll look at it: ‘Is there something that can be done with this wreck to make it respectable because we at Comcast are respectable? We want to be respectable, and that doesn’t count.’ Look, I don’t know anything. I’m just using my instincts here. (interruption) What would I do if they had me in to fix the place? Oh, I haven’t got time here, Snerdley. Why should I give that away? Why should I sit here on this program and tell what I would do, announce to the world what I would do to fix MSNBC and not get anything for it? There’s no way I’m doing that! I know exactly how to fix MSNBC. There’s no way that I’m gonna say that on this program. I’m through doing stuff I don’t get paid for. Those days are long gone.