Intermountain Jewish News

Banner
Thursday,
Jul 31st

Big money behind a big merger

E-mail Print PDF

THERE are plenty of reasons to worry about the proposal to combine Comcast, America’s largest cable and broadband company, with Time Warner Cable, the second-largest cable firm and third-largest broadband provider.

For one, there’s ever more consolidated control over content. There’s also the possibility of certain types of content being given special (or worse) treatment based on the provider’s relationship with Comcast and Time Warner Cable. And there’s the prospect of even higher prices.

Indeed a Comcast executive recently admitted that the company will not promise bills “are going to go down or even that they’re going to increase less rapidly.”

In the capital of a properly functioning democracy, all of these concerns would prompt the federal government to block the deal. But Washington is an occupied city — occupied by Comcast’s vast army. As Time magazine reported, “The company has registered at least 76 lobbyists across 24 firms.”

All of that political power is enhanced by the $9.3 million Comcast, Time Warner Cable and their affiliates have spent on campaign contributions to federal officials in just the last few years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

So, sure, it’s possible that Washington will block the merger, but it seems unlikely in a capital that most often follows the orders of its moneyed overlords.

AS it turns out, the best hope for blocking the merger may be in the states, which could use their certification processes, public utilities commissions and attorneys general to halt the deal.

Already, there are rumblings about these possible moves.

According to Consumers Union, “Over two dozen state attorneys general have already announced that they will be reviewing the transaction” — and they could sue to stop it. Likewise, the public service commission in New York says it is reviewing the deal after the legislature recently empowered it to take action against a merger if cable companies cannot demonstrate it is good for the public.

The trouble, though, is that money is a factor in these political arenas, too. For instance, Comcast and Time Warner Cable have given the Democratic and Republican groups that work to elect attorneys general more than $1.4 million in the past few years, and have contributed roughly $17 million on state campaign contributions in the last year alone.

Of course, with surveys showing consumers furious with Comcast and Time Warner Cable customer service, it is entirely plausible that some state official will try to halt the merger.

But watch the upcoming state campaign finance reports. As the merger moves forward in DC, we are likely to see a lot more Comcast and Time Warner Cable money flooding into state politics. If the merger goes through without a peep from power players outside the beltway, we will know just how much campaign cash it takes to keep the states quiet.

Copyright © 2014 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Last Updated ( Thursday, 05 June 2014 13:06 )  

IJN e-Edition

This is only a taste! Get full access to the IJN via our e-Edition, only $14.04 for IJN Print subscribers.

E-Edition subscribers get access to a complete digital replica of the IJN, which includes all special sections.

Get the IJN's free newsletter!

Shabbat Times

JTA News

Jewish groups file briefs in Jerusalem passport case

Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA) — A number of Jewish groups have filed friend of the court briefs in a Supreme Court case considering whether Americans born in Jerusalem may list “Israel” as their birthpla... [Link]

Weinberg Foundation awards emergency grants for Israel

Anthony Weiss One of the largest Jewish foundations in the United States awarded$700,000 in emergency grants to Israeli nonprofits to assist in their response to the recent conflict with Hamas in Gaza. ... [Link]

Elsewhere: Hamas’ hospital HQ, Virginia pol’s ulpan, understanding metzitzah b’peh

Miriam Moster JTA rounds up noteworthy items from around the Web. ... [Link]

Five Latin American nations pull envoys to Israel since Gaza conflict start

Ron Kampeas El Salvador is the fifth Latin American nation to pull its ambassador from Israel since the launch of Israel’s operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. ... [Link]

$540K judgment for Chicago cop in anti-Semitic harassment case

Anthony Weiss A Jewish Chicago police officer was awarded a $540,000 judgment against a former superior who allegedly taunted him for years with anti-semitic and racist remarks. ... [Link]

Shell strikes crowded Gaza market

Marcy Oster At least 17 people were killed when a mortar shell struck a crowded Gaza market. ... [Link]

Senate backs Israel’s goals in Gaza conflict

Ron Kampeas The U.S. Senate unanimously supported Israel’s goals in its conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, a posture that distances the body from President Obama’s call for an immediate and unconditional ... [Link]

Three IDF soldiers killed uncovering tunnel entrance in Gaza

Marcy Oster Three Israel Defense Forces soldiers were killed while uncovering the entrance to a tunnel shaft in a home in Gaza. ... [Link]

Intermountain Jewish News • 1177 Grant Street • Denver, CO 80203 • 303 861 2234 • FAX 303 832 6942
email@ijn.com • larry@ijn.com • lori@ijn.com