With a deal in the oven, Comcast PAC ups the ante


The acquisition of NBC Universal involves actual FCC-sanctioned broadcast television licenses, and beyond that, it raises anti-trust concerns – all of which invite regulatory scrutiny in Washington. And if you need to find friends in Washington, few things work as well as dangling some cash.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics and its website, OpenSecrets.org, the Comcast political action committee has invested almost $1.5M in the 2010 midterm elections. What may surprise some of you is that $811K of that has gone to Democrats, while Republicans received just under $680K.

As a whole, the OpenSecrets TV/Movies/Music industry sector has donated about $6.2M to candidates for federal office, with Democrats enjoying the edge in a 59%-40% split.

Comcast is the number one donor, $350K ahead of #2 NCTA and about $950K ahead of #3 NAB. Time Warner, #4 overall and the #2 business-owned PAC, only donated about $375K.

The TMM sector gave more in 2008, $6.77M, but there was a presidential race to factor in. Comcast was #1 in that one too, donating $1.3M, with $788K going to Democrats and $533 going to Repubicans.

In 2006, with a Republican in the White House and in still in control of Congress, the TMM sector kicked in $6.1M. Comcast was #2 behind NCTA with $1.06M in giving, and favored Republicans over Democrats by a $573K to $479K margin.

Let’s go back one more cycle. In the 2004 presidential year, the TMM sector was good for only $4.5M. Comcast was #3 with a mere $428K donated, again favoring Republicans, giving elephants $245K and donkeys $183K.

According to a Bloomberg report, a lot of Comcast’s giving has been directed to members of Congress who have been willing to urge the FCC and DOJ to move quickly to approve the deal. It also leans heavily toward members who represent districts served by Comcast, and particularly those who represent districts in and around its Philadelphia PA headquarters.

RBR-TVBR observation: It is really interesting to watch how the cash flows from highly interested parties to politicians. It’s like at radio stations, where the owner cannot program to personal taste, but rather must program to the audience’s taste and the available format niche. In the DC cash game, it’s not about party or ideology so much as it’s about who sits on top of what key committee and gets to appoint the top dog at which federal agency.