FCC Commissioner Steps Down to Lobby for Comcast

By Beecher Tuttle May 12, 2011

A top regulator for the Federal Communications Commission is leaving her post to join Comcast’s Washington lobbying office, just four months after she voted to approve the cable provider's highly controversial acquisition of NBC-Universal. 

FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker announced on Wednesday that she will take over the position of senior vice president of government affairs for NBC-Universal on June 3, about a month before her term is set to expire.

Baker, a Republican, was one of the four commissioners who voted to approve the January acquisition, which was opposed by some democratic lawmakers who thought it would grant Comcast too much power. Michael Copps, a democrat, was the lone commissioner who voted against the deal.

"When the same company owns the content and the pipes that deliver that content, consumers lose," Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) proclaimed back in January.

Comcast said that it did not approach Baker about the position within its new business unit until after the merger had been approved, according to Boston.com.

Still, advocacy groups were quick to attack the move, referring to it as yet another example of business-as-usual in Washington.

"This is just the latest – though perhaps most blatant – example of a so-called public servant cashing in at a company she is supposed to be regulating," Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press, a media reform advocacy group, noted in a statement. "The continuously revolving door at the FCC continues to erode any prospects for good public policy."

Baker was also bashed by similar groups in March when she openly criticized the monotonous nature of the acquisition review process. The NBC-Universal/Comcast merger took 355 days to gain approval.

"My concern is…how many other consumer-enhancing and job-creating deals are not getting done today," she said in regards to the merger review process.

Baker is far from the first Capitol Hill representative to take a position at a top technology company. AT&T, Facebook, Google and Twitter have all hired former White House staffers as lobbyists.

Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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