Comcast, Lobbyists, and Revolving Doors

There’s a deal on the table for Comcast to buy Time Warner Cable, which would make Comcast by far the biggest cable provider in the nation. And there is a lot of back and forth as to whether or not that would be a good thing.

A few anti-trust pundits think the merger is bad for competition and consumer choice. But others think it might help to invigorate a flagging cable industry, giving it the capital it needs to adapt to a changing market. I really don’t know what I think about all of that.

As a general principle, I hate anti-trust laws. I think that if the market is left largely to sort itself, even companies that gain a huge foothold are forced to keep providing a good service—or eventually they will become obsolete.

I too mourn the loss of quaint mom and pop shops put out of business by super Wal-Marts. But at the same time, Wal-Mart offers lower prices and a better selection than any mom and pop shop could afford. Do I like seeing my home town turned into a franchise-glutted cookie-cutter parking-lot zombie fun-land? Not really. But are we willing to pay higher prices to preserve our idyllic town centers? Probably not.

So I have mixed feelings when I hear about mergers and possible monopolies. My biggest problem with this current Comcast merger is simple: the revolving door. Crony capitalism is not real capitalism, and it really worries me that so many people currently lobbying for big business (or heading up big businesses) had ties and positions in government (and vice versa).

An article in DSL Reports outlines some of the connections between the FCC and Comcast. I don’t like it:

You’ll recall that former FCC boss Michael Powell now heads the cable industry’s top lobbying organization, the NCTA. You’ll also recall that former FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker is also now a Comcast lobbyist.


DOJ Antitrust Division director William J. Baer also represented NBCUniversal during Comcast’s acquisition. That’s all before you note that top Comcast lobbyist and policy man David “what broadband competition problem?” Cohen is apparently “close friends” (whatever that actually means in DC) with President Obama . . .

I’m honestly not troubled by the cable industry side of this merger. The cable industry is dying. But Comcast and Time Warner also provide cable internet all over the country. Many people don’t have a choice but to use them. And if you own the pipes, you can control the content. If Comcast is in bed with the civil government, don’t you think they will comply with Uncle Sam’s demands? We already know cable television and the mainstream media is biased left. But what happens when the “free” internet starts to be controlled and manipulated in the same way: “We’re sorry. We don’t agree with your site, Mr. Jones. So we won’t allow our users to access it through our pipes. Better luck next time.”

I’ll be watching this development closely.

4 responses

  1. Hmmmm… regarding Wal-mart type of businesses. Bigger is not better, cheaper price 100% of the time means cheaper quality, big companies try to by everything to you, small businesses owner specialize in an area (something no big business will ever be able to do), more selection often means you have more junk products to pick from and you do not have the aid of a specialist helping you because you are at a big business – same kid going to help you pick out a new router then help you with toilet paper? Remember the mom and pop place might only have one or two brands to pick from, but that does not mean they have not tested all or many of the other brands and figured out which were the best overall to bring in and represent their business. So something can be run by big business, but other things it is better left to local small businesses. I my opinion, the more technical your needs, the more a small business is a better answer. Paper goods, clothing, food, and basic daily items probably not necessary to have a specialist.

    • I’m sorry to disagree but cheaper price does not 100% of the time mean cheaper quality. Using absolutes in a discussion are always (underline always) a bad idea.

  2. Anti-trust laws are in place to create an illusion of competition. If there were a free market, there would be no need for anti-trust law. Competition would arise spontaneously and competition would flourish, driving costs down and quality up,. That’s why the big industry players invented anti-trust law. It creates a phony competition, while limiting the number of players who can enter the market with arcane regulatory law and expensive legal requirements. However, the big boys control the law through their lobbying and payoffs to our “elected” Con (gress) Men. Since they own the govt and have the money, they decide who gets into the market and they keep the players to a minimum. That way they can collude to fix prices and maintain a uniform quality of service, creating profit stability for themselves and a substandard product for consumers. The only way to win is not to play their game. Do away with cable and you will be better off.

  3. Comcast owns NBC, MSNBC, the Weather Channel and to name a few, all have a liberal agenda. Comcast is a big Obama donor. The minute Comcast controls TWC, I will switch to another service. I will not give money to these people.

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