A few months ago, the Federal Communications Commission approved Comcast’s purchase of NBC by a vote of 4-1. At the time, many people joked that the commissioners were all just securing themselves a gig at Comcast for their post-FCC careers. Today, that joke became less funny after Comcast confirmed it has indeed hired one of the four commissioners who approved the controversial deal.
After FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker’s FCC term expires at the end of June, she will move over to Kabletown as Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, NBCUniversal.
“Commissioner Baker is one of the nation’s leading authorities on communications policy and we’re thrilled she’s agreed to head the government relations operations for NBCUniversal,” the President Comcast/NBCUniversal for Washington, DC, says. “Meredith’s executive branch and business experience along with her exceptional relationships in Washington bring Comcast and NBCUniversal the perfect combination of skills.”
Here’s what the commish had to say: “I’ve been privileged to serve in government for the past seven years under President Obama at the FCC and President Bush at NTIA, I’m excited to embark on a new phase of my career with Comcast and NBCUniversal.”
(Note: The press release for this announcement did not include a photo of the dump truck of money being back up to Atwell’s front door.)
Consumer advocates are not too thrilled about this. Craig Aaron of the Free Press writes:
Less than four months after Commissioner Baker voted to approve Comcast’s takeover of NBC Universal, she’s reportedly departing the FCC to lobby for Comcast-NBC. 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.
As recently as March, Commissioner Baker gave a speech lamenting that review of the Comcast-NBC deal ‘took too long.’ What we didn’t know then was that she was in such a rush to start picking out the drapes in her new corner office.
No wonder the public is so nauseated by business as usual in Washington — where the complete capture of government by industry barely raises any eyebrows. The continuously revolving door at the FCC continues to erode any prospects for good public policy. We hope — but won’t hold our breath — that her replacement will be someone who is not just greasing the way for their next industry job.
The only commissioner to vote against the Comcast deal was Michael Copps, who recently talked at length to Consumerist about that deal and the pending AT&T/T-Mobile merger.
Free Press Blasts Comcast-FCC Merger [FreePress.net]