Comcast Rallied Troops To Vote for … Charter In ‘Worst Company’ Poll


From the City of Brotherly Love came a
decidedly unloving gesture.

In what was shaping up to be a public-relations
black eye, Comcast last week confirmed it encouraged
employees to cast votes for Charter in the 2011
“Worst Company in America”
poll run by, the Consumers
Union-owned blog site.

Comcast topped Consumer
ist ’s 2010 Worst
Company in America
playoff-style singleelimination
poll open to
anyone on the Internet —
winning the site’s uncoveted
“Golden Poo” trophy.
The 32 companies in the
poll this year, which included AT&T, Verizon Communications,
DirecTV, Dish Network and Time Warner
Cable, were nominated by the site’s readers.

This year, to avoid getting the top prize again, Comcast
undertook a companywide effort to get out the vote
for Charter, which was matched up against Comcast in
the first round of the poll.

“In announcing their contest,
the Consumerist sent
us a letter that specifically
said, ‘We invite you and your
staff to join us on Feel free to rally
your troops and get them voting
— for the competition, of
course,’ ” Comcast spokesman
John Demming said. “So,
in good spirit and at their request,
we did just that.”

Demming added, “Our employees,
who are also our customers, take great pride in
working for Comcast and in the work they do each day
on behalf of our nearly 23 million customers across the

Charter, asked to comment, said: “Listening to our
customers is the most important thing we do. They tell
us if we’re not meeting their expectations, and what we
need to do better. Charter customers are experiencing
improved service, and we’re pleased they’ve noticed.
That’s what matters to us.”

According to one of Comcast’s communiqués about
the poll, obtained by The Wire, employees were told participation
was voluntary but were informed they could
vote both at work and at home.

“To be clear, this means, to support Comcast — VOTE
FOR CHARTER. We find suggesting that to you distasteful,
but unfortunately, that is how the Consumerist
chose to structure their event,” Comcast’s message
to employees said.

But the get-out-the-vote effort didn’t seem to have
worked as intended: At press time, Comcast was leading
the head-to-head voting against Charter on by a margin of 84.1% to 15.9%.

Syfy’s Still Pumped
About ‘Spider-Man’
After Upfront Show

NEW YORK — You might have heard the news that the
$65-million Broadway musical Spider-Man Turn Off the
has had some technical and creative difficulties. The
opening has been postponed several times, cast members
have been injured performing stunts, big-name director
(and book co-writer) Julie Taymor left the production.
It’s shutting down soon for several weeks of retooling.

The show went on last Tuesday (March 22), though, for
Syfy’s upfront presentation for advertisers and media.

Channel president Dave Howe pitched a slate of new
and returning shows ahead of that night’s performance
for the invited audience. Thankfully, no serious incidents
marred the performance, though the opening act’s finale
was delayed for several minutes after Spider-Man actor
Reeve Carney missed a landing during an elaborate aerial
battle against the Green Goblin.

During the delay, Goblin actor Patrick Page hammed up
a flirtatious routine with a blonde in the front row, to the
delight of those assembled.

The next day, Blake Callaway, Syfy’s senior vice president
of brand and integrated marketing, said the packed
house proved it was a good decision to align with the
troubled production as lead media partner.

“That was a huge win for us last night,” he told The
Wire. “It’s not always easy to get 1,200 advertisers to
show up to an event, and I think that was part of the excitement
of seeing the performance, and the reason it felt
like there was great energy and a packed house.”

With that show there’s always a sense of danger, The
Wire suggested. “There’s a little sense of the unexpected,
you never know what’s going to happen,” Callaway said,
pointing out the buzz in the crowd during the delay and the
playful way the actors handled it. “I think there’s a little bit
of, people want to see a little glitch if it happens.

“We really thought it was a big, bold, ambitious swing
for Broadway, and it was aligned a little bit with how we’re
always trying to position the channel, as trying to be imaginative
and innovative. It was kind of the perfect partner.”

More than 50,000 people have entered a sweepstakes
to come to New York and see the play, he said.

Fortunately, the trip wasn’t pegged specifi cally to opening
night. No one can predict when that will be.

Civil War’s 150th
Anniversary Noted
By Cable Networks

Frankly, they do give a damn.

Turner Classic Movies will tap into its vast library and
Atlanta roots for a month-long look at the Civil War starting
April 4 (the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter
is April 12).

Gone With the Wind, the most iconic Civil War film, kicks
off the 34-film salute April 4, while Turner’s own take on
Gettysburg airs April 25. The 1993 telefilm features an
appearance by network founder and namesake Ted Turner
as Col. Waller T. Patton during the “Pickett’s Charge” sequence
of the film, produced by Turner Pictures.

Turner had more than a bit of the Grey Ghost about
him as he fought and swaggered his way to the top of the
cable business.

Raintree County will get a double airing, since the film of
that title is part of this month’s TCM tribute to its late costar,
Elizabeth Taylor.

The 34 Civil War films will air in primetime Monday
through Wednesday, with each night focusing on a different
theme — comedies, silent films, epics or life on the
home front.

Other titles include
Glory, The Red Badge of Courage,
Shirley Temple vehicle The Littlest Rebel, and silent classics
Birth of a Nation and Buster Keaton’s The General.

National Geographic Channel
plans two nights of special
programming, April 11-12, to mark the anniversary.
History, in addition to programming, is co-sponsoring a
National Civil War Student Challenge trivia contest with
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt that will award $30,000 in college
scholarships to high school students who know their
ABC’s (Antietam, Bull Run and Chancellorsville).