In “Revolving Door: Top Obama Admin Antitrust Officials Tied To Comcast” Lee Fang writes: “The news that cable and news giant Comcast has struck a deal to purchase Time Warner, another large cable business, has raised concerns over market concentration. Observers note that the combined company, even if it divests some holdings, would create monopoly-like conditions for the industry.
“Many are predicting a lobbying blitz by both companies to pressure governments officials to accept the deal. When Comcast purchased NBC Universal, lobbyists were hired to ensure the merger went through. Critics charge that the payments went beyond the traditional influence industry: after signing off on the Comcast-NBC deal, FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker was hired by Comcast for an undisclosed amount.
“Could the revolving door shape the antitrust enforcement for the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner? Republic Report looked into the officials responsible for overseeing antitrust enforcement, and found that at least two have close ties to Comcast. …”
The New York Times reports that David L. Cohen, Comcast’s main lobbyist, “has close ties to President Obama, perhaps even closer than Comcast’s chief executive, [Brian] Roberts, who has golfed with the president on Martha’s Vineyard.
“A major Democratic fundraiser, Mr. Cohen and his wife hosted Mr. Obama at their Philadelphia home in 2011, raising $1.2 million at an event where the president called the couple ‘great friends.’
“Mr. Cohen also was a guest at the White House on Tuesday for the state dinner in honor of President François Hollande of France.”
MICHAEL COPPS, via Todd O’Boyle, TOBoyle at commoncause.org, @coppsm
Former FCC commissioner and special adviser to Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Initiative, Copps said: “This is so over the top that it ought to be dead on arrival at the FCC. The proposed deal runs roughshod over competition and consumer choice and is an affront to the public interest.”
CRAIG AARON, via Jenn Topper, caaron at freepress.net, @notaaroncraig
President and CEO of Free Press, Aaron said: “In an already uncompetitive market with high prices that keep going up and up, a merger of the two biggest cable companies should be unthinkable. This deal would be a disaster for consumers and must be stopped.
“This deal would give Comcast control of more than a third of the U.S. pay-TV market and more than half of the U.S. triple-play market for video, voice and Internet service. Comcast will have unprecedented market power over consumers and an unprecedented ability to exert its influence over any channels or businesses that want to reach Comcast’s customers.”