WEASELS IN THE HENHOUSE: FCC Chairman Quits To Lobby For Comcast, Her Reward For Fastracking The Mega Merger With NBC With Minimal Restrictions
WASHINGTON POST: Federal Communications commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker defended her decision to join Comcast NBC Universal just months after voting in favor of the company’s joint venture. Under heavy criticism this week for her decision to leave the FCC to join Comcast, Baker issued a statement on Friday saying she was not approached by either Comcast or NBC Universal about a potential job during the review of their transaction. Baker stood out among the FCC’s five commissioners for criticizing the merger review process for taking too long. She said the agency attached too many conditions to the deal. Among them, she opposed holding Comcast accountable to Internet access rules and the sharing of content with new online distributors such as Netflix and YouTube. She said those Internet television platforms were too new and that the market for online video was competitive and still forming. The deal was approved in January by the FCC and Justice Department, forming a media behemoth that controls a bevy of television and movie assets along with the largest number of U.S. home Internet and cable subscriptions. MORE
NPR: “People should be outraged about this kind of blatant revolving-door activity, where one day you’re supposed to be a public servant, and the next day you simply go to work advocating for these big companies,” says Craig Aaron, president of the media advocacy group Free Press. Federal law says Baker can’t lobby the FCC for two years. But lobbying Congress is OK — and that’s what she’ll do. For a good part of the Washington establishment, that’s nothing new. “The fact that so many people inside Washington think that there’s nothing to see here shows you just how corrupted and captured by industry our policymaking is,” says Aaron. Three of the best-known examples of the revolving door at the FCC: Richard Wiley, FCC chairman in the 1970s, who went off to launch one of Washington’s powerhouse law firms, Wiley Rein; former Chairman Michael Powell, a Clinton appointee and now CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the lobby group for the cable industry; and the immediate past chairman, Kevin Martin, who heads up the communications law practice at Patton Boggs, another of the go-to law firms in Washington. MORE
PHAWKER: Ever wonder why your cable bill is so high? That’s why.