Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The price of influencing US broadband policy

An editorial in the New York Times reports that industry opponents to the FCC's broadband reclassification proposals are spending significant sums on lobbying against the plans, in the form of political contributions:
"Political contributions from AT&T in the current election cycle reached $2.6 million by May 16, on the way to exceeding the total in each of the last three elections. The company has contributed to the campaigns of every Republican and all but three Democrats on the subcommittee that deals with the Internet in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It has given money to more than half the members of the equivalent Senate panel. Comcast has spent more than $2 million on campaign donations; Verizon has given $1.2 million. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association - the industry’s collective lobbying group - has spent about $1 million more. And just in case that isn’t persuasive enough of the ills of government regulation, telephone and cable companies spent $20.6 million lobbying the government in the first quarter of the year."
ReadWriteWeb report, based on the same study by the Sunlight Foundation (which "uses cutting-edge technology and ideas to make government transparent and accountable"), that companies opposing the proposals spent more than four time as much money on lobbying in the last quarter than organisations in favour of the proposals. The Sunlight Foundation's claims were made on the basis of data supplied by the Center for Responsive Politics.

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