Big media companies are opening their wallets wider and wider to lobby the federal government on issues in which the firms have a vested interest.
The biggest spender in the first quarter of this year was Comcast, which spent a whopping $5.7 million lobbying the government for the go-ahead to close its deal to acquire NBCUniversal. That's almost double the $3.1 million it spent on lobbying during the same period last year.
News Corp. is also high on the list. Rupert Murdoch’s media empire spent $1.57 million on lobbying last quarter, up from $1.08 million year over year. Fox, a News Corp. holding, runs 27 TV stations in the U.S. and will be affected by the possible auctioning off of the stations’ unused spectrum, which has been available since the U.S. made the transition to digital broadcasting; News Corp. lobbied Congress on the issue, as bills regarding potential auctions are currently under consideration.
Disney came in not too far behind News Corp. The home of the mouse is also the home of 10 TV stations and their unused spectrum, so it, too, spent some cash lobbying on the auction legislation. But Disney's total lobbying bill didn't go up much. It doled out $1.4 million in the first quarter of this year, compared to $1.25 million in the same period last year.
Viacom spent $1.1 million on first-quarter lobbying efforts, up from $890,000. One issue that the home of MTV and VH1 threw its money behind was a review of the Comcast-NBCUniversal merger and its impact on independent programming.
Time Warner looked cheap by comparison with its competitors: It spent only $853,000, though that is an increase from $740,000 a year ago.