FCC eyes Comcast's WOW factor


Comcast Corp.'s attempts to prevent subscribers from bolting to competing
overbuilders and satellite providers are being investigated by the Federal
Communications Commission.

WideOpenWest LLC, an overbuilder competing against Comcast in Detroit,
alleged that Comcast is violating customer-service rules by offering price
discounts to subscribers who threaten to drop Comcast service for a competing

WOW said the tactic is illegal because rates and promotions must
be publicized.

WOW and other overbuilders unsuccessfully tried to make that
complaint and others an issue during the FCC's review of Comcast's merger with
AT&T Broadband.

In its order approving the deal, the FCC said it would handle the complaints
separately and indicated that they are being taken seriously. "The applicants may
well have engaged in questionable marketing tactics and targeted discounts
designed to eliminate competition," the commission wrote.

Separately, the FCC in August asked Comcast to answer a series of questions
about its marketing in Warren, Mich., where it competes directly with WOW.

The Department of Justice is also examining cable-marketing practices, and it revealed in September
that it was investigating an unnamed incumbent.