For as much as Comcast loves to say that it's in favor of an open internet, it sure doesn't like hearing about strong net neutrality regulation. According to The Wall Street Journal, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts actually called up one of Obama's top advisors last year to lobby against strict net neutrality rules. The call was reportedly made just days before Obama came out in favor of Title II reclassification, the type of net neutrality enforcement that advocates want. Roberts is said to have made it clear that, whatever the White House was planning, Comcast was opposed to it. Evidently, his lobbying effort didn't pan out.
Comcast is fighting two big battles at once
That Roberts himself would call up the White House underscores how important the outcome of the ongoing net neutrality debate is to Comcast. But it also demonstrates just how connected Comcast is in Washington, which is what the Journal really dives into in this new report. Comcast has one of the biggest corporate lobbying presences in Washington, and that's benefited it well for years now. Comcast has grown in huge thanks to merger after merger, even managing to convince regulators to approve its acquisition of NBCUniversal back in 2011.
Net neutrality is only one of Comcast's big battles right now: the other is getting approval for its merger with Time Warner Cable. Here, too, Comcast's lobbyists have close connections in Washington. In fact, the Journal reports that Comcast actually invited a senior antitrust official with the Justice Department to a party a month before it announced the merger. The official declined. Comcast has also had a relationship with President Obama for some time now. The Journal reports that Comcast employees contributed $337,000 to his reelection campaign and that he's gone golfing with Roberts.
All that said, Comcast's merger with TWC is not a sure thing. The Journal suggests that Comcast has faced more opposition over the past year from lawmakers. Regulators reportedly remain concerned that approving the merger could give Comcast too much power (it would put the company in 19 of the 20 biggest markets with little real competition). Comcast had hoped to have the merger approved last year, but the FCC has delayed its judgement. Regulators have reportedly been speaking with internet and media companies to see if Comcast has used its large size to limit their business — certainly, many are fearful that it could, depending on how these two battles turn out.