Comcast Corporation

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Comcast Corporation, based in Philadelphia, is the largest cable company in the United States, ahead of Time Warner Cable, with more than 24 million subscribers. Comcast develops broadband cable networks and is involved in electronic retailing and television programming content. In 2011, the company formed a joint venture with General Electric that gave it a 51% interest in NBCUniversal (NBCU).[1]

Comcast was founded in 1963 by Ralph J. Roberts, Daniel Aaron, and Julian A. Brodsky. The company was incorporated in Pennsylvania in 1969, under the name Comcast Corporation from American Cable Systems. The company has traded on the NASDAQ since 1972 and are currently offered under the ticker symbols CMCSA and CMCSK.

Comcast bought 25% of Group W Cable in 1986, doubling their size. Two years later, they bought a 50% share in Storer Communications, Inc. They bought the American Cellular Network Corporation the same year before combining with Metrophone in 1990. Comcast became the third largest cable operator in 1994 following their purchase of Maclean Hunter's. Comcast has owned the majority of the electronic retailer QVC since 1995. Following other acquisitions, Microsoft invested $1 billion in Comcast in 1997.

Support for the American Legislative Exchange Council

Comcast is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).[2]

Michael Wall, Senior Director of State Government Affairs at Comcast, represents Comcast as the State corporate co-chair of Georgia, along with legislative co-chairs Rep. Calvin Hill (R-GA) and Sen. Chip Rogers (R-GA); John Gibbs, Vice President of State Government Affairs at Comcast, represents Comcast as the State corporate co-chair of Minnesota, along with legislative co-chair Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-16B); and Tom Krewson, Director of State Government Relations at Comcast, represents Comcast as the State corporate co-chair of Missouri, along with corporate co-chair Mary Scruggs of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and legislative co-chairs Missouri House Majority Leader Timothy Jones (R-89) and Rep. Jason Smith (R-150); and Steve Proper, Director of Government Affairs at Comcast, represents Comcast as the State corporate co-chair of Utah, along with corporate co-chair Jay Magure of 1-800-Contacts, Inc. and legislative co-chairs Sen. Curt Bramble (R-16) and Sen. Wayne Niederhauser (R-9).[3]

Comcast is also a member of ALEC's Communications and Technology Task Force (represented by John Maher, Comcast's Regional Director State and Federal Relations, Michael Wall, John Gibbs, Ron Orlando, Comcast's Senior Director of Government Affairs, and Mike Rose, another Senior Director of Government Affairs at Comcast)[4] and ALEC's Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force (represented by Mike Rose and Richard Smotkin, Executive Director of Government Affairs at Comcast).[5]

In August 2011, Michael Wall received ALEC's State Chair of the Year Award.[6]

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.

Philadelphia Paid Sick Leave

In March 2013, the Philadelphia City Council passed, by an 11 to 6 vote, a paid sick days bill that would have allowed employees without sick leave to earn up to four paid sick days per year.[7] Over 180,000 workers in Philadelphia do not have access to paid sick days and would have benefited from this measure. [8] However, major opponents of the paid sick leave bill, special interest groups aligned with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), successfully lobbied Mayor Nutter to veto it[8]. The bill died when the council was unable to sway enough nay votes to override the mayoral veto; they needed just one more.[7] These groups, the National Restaurant Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) are all tied to ALEC.[8] The case of Philadelphia was unique in "the participation of telecommunications giant Comcast Corporation, Philadelphia's highest grossing company and an ALEC member."[8] Comcast spent over $108,000 on lobbying, most of which went towards opposition to the paid sick days bill.[8]

More than 40 percent of the work force in the United States cannot take sick days without losing wages or possibly their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Major cities such as Washington DC, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle, as well as the state of Connecticut, have put paid sick day laws on the books; New York City will soon follow suit.[8] The initiative is quickly moving to cities across the country "and in each case, the state and local branches of the National Restaurant Association, the NFIB, and the Chamber are actively opposing it" as they did in Philadelphia.[8] Philadelphia was not the first instance where these special interest groups came together to thwart this legislation. City of Milwaukee voters passed a paid sick days referendum with over 70 percent of the vote in 2008 but when Scott Walker became Wisconsin's governor in 2011, the state affiliate of the National Restaurant Association and the local Chamber lobbied Walker to back "a bill to overturn this expression of local democratic will and preempt any local paid sick day ordinance."[8]

Key Comcast State and Local Economic Development Subsidies

Pennsylvania

In 2005 Comcast received a $43 million state and local subsidy package in connection with its plan to build a new headquarters in downtown Philadelphia.[9]

In recent years Comcast has received $6.8 million in Job Creation Tax Credits and $1.2 million in Customized Job Training assistance. It has also received numerous state research & development tax credits, including $1.4 million in 2008, $1.1 million in 2009, $306,000 in 2010 and $803,000 in 2011.[10]

New Jersey

In 2000 Comcast Business Communications was granted up to $6.5 million in subsidies under the Business Employment Incentive Program (BEIP). As of March 31, 2013, $4.4 million had been disbursed.[11]

In 2001 Comcast of New Jersey II, LLC was granted up to $512,000 in subsidies under the BEIP program. Because recipients used to be able to exceed their grants if they created enough jobs, as of March 31, 2013, $1.5 million had been disbursed. [12]

Connecticut

Comcast of Connecticut received a $5 million Urban and Industrial Site Reinvestment Credit and a $1.5 million Manufacturing Assistance Act grant, both in 2010.[13][14]

Maryland

Comcast of Maryland received $121,000 in assistance from the Industrial Training Program in 2010 and $500,000 from the MEDAFF-2 program in 2008.[15][16]

NBC Universal

NBCUniversal, a majority of which Comcast acquired in 2011 (and is now purchasing the rest) has its own history of subsidy-taking. In 1987 NBC got a $98 million subsidy from New York City after threatening to move its headquarters to New Jersey. The company ended up moving some of its operations, including parts of MSNBC and CNBC, to that state, where in 1999 it was granted up to $4.6 million in BEIP assistance (of which $2.4 million has been disbursed).[17] In 2001 NBC Sports agreed to move its headquarters to Connecticut in exchange for a $20 million subsidy package.[18]

The Universal Orlando theme park in Florida benefits from infrastructure improvements paid through a special taxing district called a Community Redevelopment Area.[19] Since 2010 Universal Orlando has also received some $2.3 million in tax credits under a state program designed to promote job creation in high-crime areas.[20]

Fake news fines

In September 2007, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued two notices of apparent liability, announcing its intention to fine Comcast $4000 for each of its regional cable channel CN8's five undisclosed video news release (VNR) broadcasts documented in the Center for Media and Democracy's "Still Not the News" report[21] for a total of $20,000.[22]

In the first notice, for CN8's broadcast of the Nelson's Rescue Sleep VNR[23] the FCC said that the "extensive images and mentions of the product" triggered the need for VNR disclosure.[24] The second notice was for CN8's broadcast of the General Mills (Wheaties)[25], Trend Micro[26], Allstate[27], and General Mills (Bisquick)[28] VNRs. In it, the FCC broadened its explanation for the need for VNR disclosure, saying that "the VNR itself was the 'valuable consideration' provided to CN8." The second notice also faults CN8's broadcast of the four VNRs, saying their promotional content goes far beyond the acceptable "fleeting or transient references to products or brand names."[29]

In response to "questions about why the cable operator appeared at the front of the line of what could be numerous VNR decisions, particularly since a raft of complaints against others had been filed months before the ones against Comcast," FCC Chair Kevin Martin explained that Comcast was the only company that had not agreed to give the FCC more time to investigate the VNR complaints. Broadcasting & Cable quoted Martin as saying, "I believe Comcast had initially told our Enforcement Bureau that they would also agree to a tolling agreement [an extension for FCC investigations]. ... But then they decided they would not. So we were faced with a choice of issuing the NAL [notice of apparent liability] or allowing the time to lapse so we would never be able to take any enforcement action against them. And so, faced with that decision, we decided we would issue an NAL." [30]

Political contributions

Stephen B. Burke, then Executive Vice President and now Chief Operating Officer of Comcast, is a Bush Ranger having raised at least $200,000 for Bush in the 2004 presidential election. [31]

The Comcast political action committee (PAC) gave $1,060,484 to federal candidates in the 05/06 election cycle - 45% to Democrats, 54% to Republicans, and 1% to third parties. [32]

Lobbying

The company spent $9,460,000 for lobbying in 2006. Of this total, $3,960,000 went to 20 outside lobbying firms including Wexler and Walker Public Policy Associates, Blank Rome LLP, and DLA Piper. [33]

Personnel

Board of Directors

As of April 2013:[34]

Former Directors include:[35]

Corporate Executives

As of April 2013:[36]

  • Brian L. Roberts - Chairman and CEO
  • Ralph J. Roberts - Founder and Chairman Emeritus
  • Michael J. Angelakis - Vice Chairman and CFO
  • Stephen B. Burke - CEO, NBCUniversal and Executive VP, Comcast Corporation
  • David L. Cohen - Executive VP
  • Neil Smit - President and CEO, Comcast Cable and Executive VP, Comcast Corporation


Key executives and 2006 pay: [37]          Options
exercised
Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer    $13,900,000    $19,920,000
Ralph J. Roberts, Co-Founder and Director    $4,450,000    $2,750,000
John R. Alchin, Co-Chief Financial Officer    $2,620,000    $2,830,000
David L. Cohen, Executive Vice President    N/A    N/A
Stephen B. Burke, Chief Operating Officer    $8,720,000    $19,040,000

Contact details

1 Comcast Center
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: 215-286-1700
Web: http://www.comcast.com

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Comcast profile, Hoovers, accessed February 2011.
  2. Steven Titch ALEC Adopts Model VoIP Bill, Info Tech & Telecom News, Heartland Institute publication, September 2007
  3. American Legislative Exchange Council, "Solutions for the States," 38th Annual Meeting agenda, on file with CMD, August 3-6, 2011
  4. American Legislative Exchange Council, American Legislative Exchange Council Telecommunications & Information Technology as of July 18th, 2011, organizational task force membership director, July 18, 2011, p. 22, obtained and released by Common Cause April 2012
  5. American Legislative Exchange Council, Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee Roster 2, organizational task force membership directory, March 31, 2011, p. 46, obtained and released by Common Cause April 2012
  6. American Legislative Exchange Council, 2011 Conference Sponsors, conference brochure on file with CMD, August 11, 2011
  7. 7.0 7.1 Dan Stamm, "Paid Sick Leave Veto Override Falls 1 Vote Short", NBC Philadelphia, April 11, 2013
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 Brendan Fischer, "Paid Sick Days Defeat in Philadelphia Followed Familiar Script", PRWatch, April 17, 2013
  9. Natalie Kostelni, “Controversial skyscraper will be built in downtown Philadelphia”, Philadephia Business Journal, January 5, 2005
  10. [value=&field_subsidy_type_value_many_to_one=All&date_filter[value][year]=&field_subsidy_state_value_many_to_one=PA&field_subsidy_program_value=&field_subsidy_agency_value=&field_subsidy_city_value=&field_subsidy_county_value Comcast Corporation Subsidies in Pennsylvania], GoodJobsFirst.org, accessed April 2013
  11. Comcast Business Communications, LLC et. al. BEIP subsidy, GoodJobsFirst.org, accessed April 2013
  12. Comcast of New Jersey II, LLC BEIP subsidy, GoodJobsFirst.org, accessed April 2013
  13. Comcast of Connecticut, Inc. Urban and Industrial Site Reinvestment Credit, GoodJobsFirst.org, accessed April 2013
  14. Comcast of Connecticut, Inc. Manufacturing Assistance Act grant, GoodJobsFirst.org, accessed April 2013
  15. Comcast of Maryland, Inc. Maryland Industrial Training Program, GoodJobsFirst.org, accessed April 2013
  16. Comcast of Maryland, Inc. MEDAFF-2 grant, GoodJobsFirst.org, accessed April 2013
  17. NBC Universal, Inc.; CNBC,Inc.; CNBC.com, LLC BEIP grant, GoodJobsFirst.org, accessed April 2013
  18. Mara Lee, “NBC Adding 450 Jobs, with Possibility of More,” Hartford Courant, October 26, 2011.
  19. Mark Schlueb, “Taxpayers would build $4.5M Universal bridge,” Orlando Sentinel, February 14, 2013.
  20. Megan Anderson, “Universal claims $2.3M in tax credits since 2010: report,” Orlando Business Journal, February 4, 2013.
  21. Diane Farsetta, "Still Not the News: Stations Overwhelmingly Fail to Disclose VNRs", PRWatch, November 3, 2006.
  22. Diane Farsetta, "Four More Fines for Fake News: FCC Says VNRs Are "'Valuable Consideration'", PRWatch, October 1, 2007.
  23. Daniel Price, "Two Newsrooms Sleep as 'Hard Sell' VNR Airs", PRWatch, October 17, 2006
  24. Comcast Corporation Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, Federal Communications Commission, September 21, 2007
  25. Daniel Price, "Bowls and Balls: Football's Flutie a Wheaties Flunky", PRWatch, October 25, 2006
  26. Daniel Price, "Yes, But Can It Protect You From Fake News? Comcast Station Goes All Out To Push Laptop Security Software, PRWatch, October 28, 2006
  27. Daniel Price "Allstate in Good Hands with VNR-Friendly News Team", PRWatch, October 29, 2006
  28. Daniel Price, "News Flash: Art Fennell Loves Pancakes. For Bisquick's Birthday, CN8 Gives Away Its Viewers", PRWatch, October 27, 2006
  29. Comcast Corporation Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, Federal Communications Commission, September 26, 2007
  30. John Eggerton, "Martin Defends Comcast Place at Head of VNR Fine Line: Comcast Wouldn't Agree to 'Tolling Agreement' to Give FCC More Time," Broadcasting & Cable, October 2, 2007.
  31. Bush Ranger Stephen B. Burke, Texans for Public Justice, accessed October 2007.
  32. 2006 PAC Summary Data, Open Secrets, accessed October 2007.
  33. Comcast lobbying expenses, Open Secrets, accessed October 2007.
  34. Comcast, "Board of Directors", organizational website, accessed April 30, 2013
  35. Board of Directors, Comcast, accessed October 2007.
  36. Comcast, "Corporate Executives", organizational website, accessed April 30, 2013
  37. Comcast Key Executives, Yahoo Finance, accessed October 2007.

External links