In this report by the Associated Press, a spokesperson for Comcast admits that the company hired a gaggle of “seat warmers” during the first inquiry into the principle of “net neutrality” held at Harvard University in February. The company was widely criticized for the move.

Comcast also came under fire after the Harvard hearing for hiring “seat warmers” to help pack the auditorium. Event organizers accused the shills of applauding loudly for pro-industry sentiments and hogging seats that prevented company critics from attending. Comcast endured another round of withering cries of censorship afterward.

Fitzmaurice [Comcast PR flack] said the seat warmers were necessary to ensure that the company’s views were fairly represented and it was common lobbying industry practice in Washington. She said the company would not be hiring seat warmers for the Stanford hearing.

I guess all the criticism hurt Comcast’s feelings. The company will not be attending the FCC’s second inquiry that will be held today at Stanford University even though . . .

. . . the investigation and public hearings are the agency’s most serious examination of “Net neutrality,” the principle that all Internet traffic be treated equal. Equal treatment of traffic is a long-standing practice on the Internet, and some consumers groups think it should be enforced by regulation because network owners, such as Comcast, have begun asserting more control over the Internet.

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