May 23rd, 2011

Comcast Queried on FCC Hire

The Wall Street Journal

The chairman of the House Oversight Committee wants more information from the Federal Communications Commission about the departure of commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker for a lobbying job at Comcast Corp.

In a letter sent May 18, Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) asked FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski questions about Ms. Baker’s departure for Comcast just four months after she voted to approve the $12.75 billion deal to acquire control of NBC Universal from General Electric Co.

In the letter, Mr. Issa said it didn’t appear Ms. Baker had violated legal or ethical rules but “nevertheless, because only a short time has passed since the Comcast-NBC Universal merger, it is imperative that the public can trust the integrity of the process.” He asked for an FCC briefing on the matter next week.

An FCC spokesman said the agency had no comment.

Public interest groups have called for Mr. Issa and other lawmakers to investigate the circumstances around Ms. Baker’s departure.

A spokesman for Ms. Baker said she welcomes the additional opportunity to explain her decision. Last week, Ms. Baker released a statement saying she had broken no laws and had not talked to Comcast officials about a job at the cable giant during the agency’s deliberations over the NBC deal.

Under the Obama administration’s lobbying rules, Ms. Baker can’t lobby FCC officials for the remainder of the administration. However she can lobby lawmakers and their staff immediately.

Meanwhile, a Seattle non-profit that temporarily lost Comcast funding for airing views about Ms. Baker’s move on Twitter said it won’t accept Comcast money going forward. On Thursday, Comcast apologized to Reel Grrls, which offers filmmaking programs for women, saying a local official had made a mistake when he pulled the group’s funding.

Reel Grrls said Friday that it has decided to “redesign our summer camp to focus on developing films about free press issues,” and will rely on other funding.

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704816604576335763441339184.html#ixzz1NBFI7bxK

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