Comcast Lobbyist Admits Using ‘Internet for Poor’ Program as Leverage to Influence NBC Universal-Comcast Merger

The lead lobbyist for Comcast freely admits that he used the promise of a new low-cost internet service for poor people as leverage against the FCC when the company was seeking to merge with NBC Universal in 2009. The news comes from a Washington Post profile DC lobbyist David Cohen, who has led Comcast's policy and lobbying efforts in the capital for over a decade. Apparently Comcast planned on launching the service in late-2009, but Cohen urged the company to delay it so it could be used to entice the FCC into approving its merger with NBC Universal.

Cohen has no problem revealing this fact to the Washington Post:

"I held back because I knew it may be the type of voluntary commitment that would be attractive to the chairman" of the Federal Communications Commission, Cohen said in a recent interview.

As Washington Post reporter Ceclia Kang notes at the end of the article the FCC later took credit for this program when it was launched. While Cohen says that this alone didn't earn the FCC approval he was seeking, it certainly helped.

Last month FCC Chairman Gene Genachowski took credit for the program and tied it to the NBC Universal-Comcast merger.

"This particular program came from our reviewing of the Comcast NBC-U transaction," Genachowski said in a speech. "Comcast embraced it as good for the country, as well as good for business. And I'm fine with that."

Source: Tech Dirt

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