Business

Comcast gave Republican leader 4x more money than Google. Now he opposes net neutrality

Above: Flickr User kenteegardin

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Comcast has been shelling out large sums of cash to Republican leaders in Congress, and the company’s efforts may be paying off.

The nation’s top political leaders rarely give much attention to the wonky regulatory battles of the tech industry. But embattled Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) took time off from budgets and immigration reform to threaten the Federal Communication Commission over its proposal to strengthen net neutrality.

Following the Republican leader, all of the Republican party’s top brass (the majority leader, the whip, and GOP conference chair) signed on to a strongly worded letter (.pdf) to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Wheeler has hinted that he would reclassify Internet broadband as a utility, giving him more power to regulate Internet service providers, such as Comcast, who want to be able to charge more money for faster service.

It’s difficult to say how much money influences policy, especially if a politician personally opposes their donors. But fighting net neutrality fits squarely within the anti-regulation ethos of Republicans, so it’s easier for big donors to get their pet issue some attention.

According to OpenSecrets, Comcast gave about four times more money to Boehner than net neutrality supporter Google ($74,000 vs. $20,000). Indeed, Comcast is the third biggest donor to Boehner’s re-election campaign so far.

boehner

Boehner’s Democratic counterpart in the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), has received a nearly mirror image of support from Comcast and Google ($7,500 from Comcast vs. $22,500 from Google). Democrats, by and large, have been stronger supporters of net neutrality, although Pelosi isn’t exploiting her leadership position to galvanize support for the cause.

pelosi

For the time being, net neutrality is in political limbo. Earlier this year, a district court struck down the current method of protecting net neutrality, leading to the fight over whether the FCC should reclassify it as a “common carrier” utility. Telecommunications companies have threatened to go to court and reduce investments in broadband infrastructure if the Internet is reclassified.

The new FCC chairman has to find a novel balance between Internet companies, telecoms, Republicans and Democrats — all of whom have a lot of money at stake.

More about the companies and people from this article:

Comcast brings together the best in media and technology. We drive innovation to create the world’s best entertainment and online experiences. Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is a global media and technology company with ... read more »

Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major glob... read more »

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10 comments
Bitterman207
Bitterman207

@4thAnon Shouldnt there be a law against this coruption? This republican should be fired out on his ass for bribes

Mother Joker
Mother Joker

Today all yes votes to allow Fast Lanes were from Dems, and the 2 no votes were Repubs. I'm confused.

Corey Sanderson
Corey Sanderson

@Mother Joker  Because the votes were for if this deserves discussion. Republicans are anti-regulation, so they felt the matter warranted no discussion. Democrats are the other end of that, and voted "yes" on allowing discussion of Wheeler's offer. Nothing has passed.

Now, the period of time is open for citizen input (but it's not like we weren't doing that already). It will then be discussed and mulled over, and then put to a vote in the summer.

joshplusua
joshplusua

@d20plusmodifier they all do bad, and it's funny that Comcast is so loathed everywhere except around here. We live in the ISP backwoods.