At the FCC’s hearing in Cambridge, Mass., yesterday, Comcast filled the limited-seating room with hired spectators, according to an Associated Press report.

Comcast said it encouraged employees to attend to counter an advocacy group called Free Press, which had encouraged people to attend to protest Comcast’s traffic management policies.

Free Press accused Comcast of hiring people off the street to fill the seats.

The AP said Comcast confirmed that it had indeed hired people to hold seats at the hearing for Comcast employees.

“First, Comcast was caught blocking the Internet,” said Timothy Karr, director of an advocacy campaign backed by a coalition including Free Press. “Now it has been caught blocking the public from the debate. The only people cheering Comcast are those paid to do so.”

The AP also reported that the New York attorney general's office has requested information from Comcast on the company's handling of Internet traffic. Comcast said that it was cooperating with the AG's office.

Most speakers at the FCC’s public forum agreed that service providers should not be able to block Internet traffic, but FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said the crux of the matter was whether anyone has been illegitimately blocking traffic (story here).

The event prompting the meeting was the discovery last year that Comcast occasionally cuts off some peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic in the course of network management.

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