Investigative Reporter Takes A Rare Look Inside America's Most Successful Cable Dynasty—COMCAST--And The Clever Father-Son Team Who Created It

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The first book to detail how the father-son pair of Ralph and Brian Roberts exploited emerging technologies and financial and political opportunities to create Comcast Corp, the nation's biggest cable TV company and fastest growing internet provider.

It’s the lean, mean cable machine—COMCAST. And millions of American cable subscribers and Internet users, sports fans, and even purveyors of smut, are under its control.

Much has been written and said about the world’s largest cable monopoly, about unfair alliances with Microsoft, about the fleecing of American cable and Internet users, and about its tendencies to seek out wounded giants only to swallow them—or at least try to—whole. Yet surprisingly little has been written in detail about the history of this wildly lucrative cable giant and the lives and personalities of its founder, Ralph Roberts, and his son, the current CEO, Brian.

Now, thanks to award-winning reporter Joseph N. DiStefano’s new book, COMCASTed: How Ralph and Brian Roberts Took Over America’s TV, One Deal at a Time ($24.95 hardcover, April 1, 2005) everyone gets access to the heart of the Comcast machine and the men who make it tick.

DiStefano spent over two years meticulously researching the cable giant and its founding family to create a must-read history of this vital industry, as well as the unauthorized biography of Ralph and Brian Roberts.

COMCASTed begins with Ralph Roberts’s early years—“The first thing I remember is digging up my mother’s marigolds and selling them to the neighbors,” he once said—and then follows his rise in business, his fortuitous marriage to Suzanne Fleisher, and the many alliances, rivalries, fast moves, and takeovers that eventually got him from a small franchise in Tupelo, Mississippi, to the nation’s biggest cable TV company and fastest-growing Internet provider.

DiStefano then explores the legendary father–son relationship and tells the story of Brian Roberts’s rise and his ever-bolder reign as CEO. Of course, no discussion of Comcast and its current CEO can be complete without the penetrating analysis of the Disney debacle and other key moves the younger Roberts has made.

Complete with a “Comcast Timeline” beginning in 1904 and a detailed bibliography, COMCASTed is indeed a very inside and detailed look at the company Americans can’t seem to hate enough.

Joseph N. DiStefano is an award-winning business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, writing on such timely topics as corporate takeovers, financial blow-ups, and the Internet bubble. His coverage of the collapse of Saul P. Steinberg’s Reliance Insurance Company was included in Best Business Stories of the Year 2003 (Vintage/Random House). He has been a speaker and/or panelist for the FBI, the American Bankers’ Association, and professional accounting, insurance, and investment groups. The author lives in Wilmington, Delaware, but without cable TV or high-speed Internet access—at least for now.


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Barbara Gibbons