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The Almighty Buck The Internet Politics

You Can't Kid a Kidder: Comcast's Cohen May Have Met His Match In FCC's Wheeler 56

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Comcast's top lobbyist, David Cohen, is known to be a savvy political operator, having pushed through the No. 1 U.S. cable operator's landmark acquisition of media giant NBC Universal in 2011. But Alina Selyukh And Liana B. Baker write at Reuters that although Comcast ranks among the top-ten corporate influencers in Washington, having spent $18.8 million on lobbying last year, Cohen may have met his match in Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler. Wheeler headed the cable trade group from 1979 to 1984 and ran the wireless industry association from 1992 to 2004. Since taking over the FCC last November, however, Wheeler has not shied away from stances that have roiled past allies. Wheeler publicly expressed skepticism about a potential merger between wireless carriers Sprint and T-Mobile in one of his most attention-grabbing moves last February.

'You can't kid a kidder. Having been a lobbyist, he knows all their tricks,' says Blair Levin. Comcast will formally request an FCC review of the $45.2 billion Time Warner Cable deal later in March. Opponents say the combined company will have too much power over what Americans can watch on television and do online. As FCC chairman, Wheeler has publicly and repeatedly stated his 'unabashed' support for competition. Wheeler has also hired a heavyweight consumer advocate, Gigi Sohn, as a senior adviser. Colleagues of Wheeler, a published historian, also highlight his subject expertise. 'He knows these issues like the back of his hand,' says one FCC official who works with Wheeler. 'He knows how the business runs. He knows these people, he knows what they think and what policies they want.'"
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You Can't Kid a Kidder: Comcast's Cohen May Have Met His Match In FCC's Wheeler

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  • by careysub ( 976506 ) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @04:38PM (#46494533)

    ... A ray of hope so thin strains my credulity.

    Try the cynical angle on this. This deal is a howler - he would be hanging out an "Industry Shill" shingle at the start of his tenure if he gave this merger a pass. A truly smart savvy operative would use this to make his "public rep", nixing an outrageous scheme, and giving a nice speech about it. Then with his newly minted regulatory cred, he can give a pass on tons of other stuff and still argue that he is working for the people.

  • by mrsam ( 12205 ) on Saturday March 15, 2014 @05:59PM (#46494955) Homepage

    I've been saying this for many years. The reason why US broadband sucks is because the original breakup of Ma Bell has mostly failed. The fault line of Ma Bell's breakup was set to be the local service vs long distance. What should've happened instead was that the Bell system should've been broken up at the physical plant level. ILECs should've been left owning nothing more than the physical plant, selling access to it, at tariffed rates, to any CLEC that wants to provide voice or data service over the last mile.

    I'm at pessimist at heart. At best, we can hope that this mega merger is going to get canned. But of course, one can dream about FCC saying to Comcast and Time Warner: "You want to merge, ok, but you end up owning only the physical plant, and anyone who wants to provide video, voice, or data service, can pay you for maintaining the coax, and other than that, butt out."

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker