Comcast's lobbying tentacles are legendary, reaching into Congress and state governments as the cable giant seeks approval for its Time Warner Cable merger. But a New York Times investigation out today suggests the apparatus goes further than anyone thought.
More than 80 community groups received support.
The Times reviewed documents showing Comcast or its trade organization funded several organizations that later sent pro-merger letters to the FCC. According to the Times, that list includes "Americans for Tax Reform, the American Enterprise Institute, the Institute for Policy Innovation, Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Free State Foundation, and the Center for Individual Freedom" as well as "a professor at a technology program at the University of Pennsylvania." The Times also counted charities and more than 80 community groups among those groups that received support — and that frequently wrote letters and op-eds supporting the Comcast–Time Warner Cable merger.
The investigation also highlights some of the political lobbying weight Comcast is putting behind the merger, a process that's already been scrutinized. Comcast had 124 federal lobbyists working it for it last year, and in January, The Verge revealed how the company's lobbying arm was ghostwriting letters from politicians supporting the merger.
While public opinion seems firmly against the mega-merger — the FCC has been flooded with letters opposing it — the Times notes that the merger supporters have some advantages, as those making legal arguments for the merger could outweigh concerns from ordinary citizens.