As you may know, the merger process at the FCC and DoJ is a mess. In fact, some believe the entire process is not much different than extortion. Not only do we have some newly reported shenanigans going on around the AT&T merger – with FCC staff last week playing fast and loose with data in an effort to sink the merger once and for all – now we have this gem.
To fulfill part of its merger “penance” with the FCC from earlier this year, Comcast / NBC-U announced the other day it has entered into agreements that:
…create new and innovative cooperative news gathering and reporting arrangements with a series of locally-focused, non-profit news organizations.
The partnerships are with ProPublica, which will work with all ten owned stations, serving the following markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area, Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington, D.C., Miami, San Diego and Connecticut; The Chicago Reporter which will work with NBC 5 Chicago; WHYY which will partner with NBC 10 Philadelphia; and KPCC which work with NBC4 LA. (Emphasis and links added)
As I wrote about previously on these pages, the Comcast Merger Order “voluntarily” commits the new company to foster local journalism via the “Voice of San Diego Model,” a socially progressive news organization. ProPublica, The Chicago Reporter, and KPCC make good on this promise. They are archetypical liberal media outlets, which are supported in large measure by the usual suspects among America’s top progressive foundations (like Soros, Ford, MacArthur, Knight, Pew, etc.).
What’s amazing is it’s happening as I had predicted – coming just in time to boost progressive messaging for the 2012 elections, all in key urban cities that are vital to Obama maintaining the White House.
Quite a “voluntarily agreed to” platform, huh? And, go figure, a progressive one at that. Hmm…
How many stories do think they’ll run, talking-up the important benefits of federalism, limited government, low regulation and taxation, the right to life, and economic freedom, etc.?
You want an idea? Listen to NPR.
When companies come to the government for merger approval, this gives Uncle Sam a huge amount of leverage. The result for Comcast? Its Merger Order runs 279 pages long. Sixty of those comprise “community affairs” giveaways, which include the news partnerships mentioned above, among other numerous items unrelated to “fixing” the supposed “harms” created by the merger.
Now to be fair, NBC is no paragon of conservative thought. And, Comcast’s Brian Roberts is reported to be one of Obama’s biggest contributors to his Victory fund. Further, neither party came to this deal as a naïf – they knew what they would face from the government. Especially this one. But, would this buildout have occurred without the “voluntary” agreement? No. That aspect of the Merger Order would not have been unnecessary if they were.
Quite frankly, the government ploy here is not much more sophisticated than a backroom hold-up by a local mobster.
Says Zio Sammy darkening the alleyway door:
“Dats a mighty fine network ya’ got there. A shame if anything happened to it, eh?”
And then Sammy reaches calmly into his rain slicker and pulls out some heat.
“Stick ’em up, Comcast. Empty your pockets.”
“Tanks. I knew you’d see it my way.”
This is how our government works. The merger process is only a small reflection of the larger problem. And, you think it just happens to the big guys? Think again.
“You like what you got, Mr. 1%? Gimme’ more of dat wealth so I can give it to my friends.”
“You want dat healthcare? Den you gotta’ buy dis here individual mandate, Joe da Plumba.”
“Need a job to get outta’ dis recession? You gotta’ come tru me to get it, Mrs. Mainstreet.”
Change didn’t start all of this. But Change hasn’t changed it either.
Only you can, starting next November.