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Sat Jan 31, 2015, 01:42 AM

Politiciansí Letters In Support Of Comcast Merger Were Actually Written By Comcast

In the eleven months since Comcast announced that it would acquire Time Warner Cable, numerous local and national politicians have written to the FCC in support of the merger, claiming it will create jobs (in spite of the fact that thousands of employees will inevitably be made redundant), spark investment (even though Comcast could just invest the $40 billion instead of using it to buy TWC), and provide broadband access for the poor (a program thatís been criticized as window dressing), without hurting competition (because there isnít any to begin with). Many of the letters hit the same pointsÖ almost as if they were ghostwritten and the politicians just signed their names to them.

Thatís because, at least in some cases, the person whose name is signed to one of these letters had little to nothing to do with its authorship.

A new report from The Verge uncovers Comcastís efforts to astroturf its mega-merger by feeding local politicians what were effectively form letters that could be signed and sent off to the FCC to make it look like there was bona fide grassroots support for the TWC acquisition.

Like the letter supposedly written by Mayor Jere Wood of Roswell, GA, but actually penned by a vice president of external affairs at Comcast.
E-mails obtained by The Verge show that the mayorís only contribution to the letter was a single sentence at the end and his signature.

Another letter from a town councilman in Jupiter, FL, was not only first sent to Comcast for approval, but was then tweaked by a former FCC official whose telecom law firm has been hired by Comcast to help usher the merger through the approval process.


Former FCC Chairman Michael Copps says that letters from local leaders get special attention when they reach D.C.


Comcast has been successful in rounding up political figures in support of its merger battle. In August, more than 50 mayors signed on to a single letter urging the FCC to approve the deal. In December, the two U.S. Senators from Pennsylvania signed a joint letter asking the FCC to expedite its approval process, without mentioning that they had received a combined $184,000 in donations from Comcast sources.

Thereís no proof that either of these two letters were ghostwritten by Comcast, though they do highlight how out of touch these elected officials are from their constituents. Comcast and Time Warner Cable have repeatedly been at the bottom of several major customer satisfaction surveys, which are the voices of actual consumers who didnít receive campaign contributions in exchange for their opinions.

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