Tech

Rahm Emanuel Backs Comcast, Time Warner Cable Merger — After $100,000 In Donations

Giuseppe Macri
Tech Editor

Comcast is continuing its nationwide PR campaign for permission to merge with Time Warner Cable by touting support from major political players including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel — what they failed to mention is that the former White House chief of staff’s endorsement cost the company more than $100,000.

Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen singled out Emanuel among “nearly 70 mayors and over 60 other state and local officials” in support of the merger in a blog post on the company’s website last week, International Business Times reports.

“We’re proud to have the support of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel,” Cohen wrote.

In a letter to the FCC sent in August, Emanuel said the city of Chicago “value[s] and appreciate[s] the strong and generous presence Comcast currently maintains,” and that the city is confident the $45 billion-merger of the top two U.S. cable and broadband providers “would maintain and enhance that strong and generous presence.”

That generosity includes more than $100,000 from the company and its employees in political donations to Emanuel and political committees he heads.

Since Emanuel’s campaign bid for mayor began in 2010, Comcast and its employees have paid out $50,000 to Emanuel and his political organizations, according to the report. Before then, he received $46,000 from Comcast for his congressional re-election campaigns from 2003 to 2008. Comcast and employees also gave $25,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee while it was chaired by Emanuel.

Internet content providers such as Netflix, lawmakers including Minnesota Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, activist organizations like the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and numerous television channels have all expressed skepticism at the proposal, which they allege would create a monopolized service provider behemoth capable of crushing industry startups and reducing consumer choice.

If approved, the combined companies would control 30 percent of the cable market, 40 percent of the broadband market, and 19 of the 20 largest cable markets, according to Reuters.

In his letter Emanuel dismissed the concerns, and said the city does “not believe the proposed transaction would reduce choice, elevate prices, or otherwise harm consumers,” though he does not specifically explain any reasoning for the assertions.

Last month, Comcast and Time Warner Cable came under fire for making a combined contribution of $132,000 to honor FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn at a dinner in September. The FCC is currently considering the merger’s approval. (RELATED: Comcast, Time Warner Pay $132,000 To Honor FCC Commissioner Ahead Of Merger Approval)

Follow Giuseppe on Twitter and Facebook