It's no secret in Washington that Time Warner Cable has been one of the biggest proponents of retransmission consent reform. The cable company has devoted considerable financial and lobbying resources to get Congress to act and is one of the biggest members of the American Television Alliance, which puts out several press releases a week.
But this time, one of Time Warner Cable's lobbyists may have gone a little too far. Intended to appeal to the GOP's dislike of the Affordable Care Act, the quick, one-sentence email only ended up pissing off the Democrats.
The email was simple: "Next time you think about helping the broadcasters, particularly the networks, read this." Attached to the email was a story from The Weekly Standard about how NBC was launching a week of programming to inform consumers about the Affordable Care Act. No doubt the lobbyist figured that NBC's move to promote Obamacare would enrage the GOP so much that it would reject broadcasters' defense of retransmission consent.
Instead, the email enraged House commerce ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who dashed off a letter to TWC CEO Glenn Britt and asked him what his lobbyist was thinking.
"Could you please explain why this email was sent and what purpose it serves? A broadcaster has a public service obligation and should be informing viewers about the new options for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. On the other hand, a cable company should not be pandering to the worst instincts of the reckless Republican extremists that seem to be running the House of Representatives."
The timing could also have been better, sent on the fourth day of the government shutdown, when everyone's nerves are already on edge.
A Time Warner Cable spokesperson said "we are looking into the situation and will respond directly to the Congressman."