Comcast ghostwrote letters for politicians to send to FCC
While the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice debate the merger between cable giants Comcast and Time Warner Cable, local politicians have submitted letters urging for federal approval. The letters, which express strong support behind the deal, were authored by Comcast, according to The Verge.
In its report, The Verge published emails between the offices of small-town politicians and Andy Macke, Comcast’s vice president of external affairs.In late August 2014, Comcast sent a sample letter for Mayor Jere Wood of Roswell, Georgia, through a local development firm. While an email described the letter as a ‘draft’ and said the Mayor could choose to use it, Wood filed the letter word-for-word with the FCC.
Comcast’s letter has Wood extolling the company’s “outstanding job providing high quality cable TV and internet services.”
“What has impressed me even more is the company’s deep interest in further technological development to benefit its many subscribers,” it read.
The filing continued to emphasize Comcast’s attention outside “large metropolitan areas” to “smaller cities – like Roswell”
Wood’s letter and others from officials like him were referenced in an August 25 Comcast press release, which highlighted the “support of mayors and other local officials.”
After interest in net neutrality turned into negative press for the Comcast merger with TWC, Comcast didn’t just turn to local politicians. According to the Verge, Comcast also wrote letters for higher level officials like Oregon’s Democratic Secretary of State Kate Brown, who has received nearly $10,000 since 2008 for two campaigns.
State executives who have also voiced support for Comcast include the governors of Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Hawaii, Colorado, Maryland and Vermont. Many major city mayors have also filed comments, including Rahm Emanuel of Chicago and Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, where Comcast’s headquarters are located. The Verge has not published any emails between these executives and Comcast.
But in a more direct move, Comcast’s CEO Brian Roberts called one of Obama’s top advisers last November to lobby against strict net neutrality rules days before Obama made a video announcement reclassifying Internet service as a utility.
The FCC, which is reviewing whether Comcast and TWC’s deal is in the public interest, and the Department of Justice, which is analyzing the merger for antitrust issues, is expected to complete its review in the first quarter of 2015.