Comcast Really Wants You to Approve of Its Time Warner Merger


Not only does Comcast care—it also knows what you think.

The company is well aware of the fact that it has maintained one of corporate America’s worst reputations for several years by scoring near the bottom in pretty much every category from product quality to customer service (which might improve if you’d just stop calling so often).

When the media megalith announced its $45 billion plans to merge with Time Warner Cable, most tech folks turned to the world’s greatest comfort food: comedy.

Of course, the merger is a very serious matter—and this week’s New York Times story shows us how a hated company tries to spin a hated business move.

Immediately after the announcement came this release from the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which praised the merger as “a win-win” from “one of the world’s most innovative and highly-regarded companies.”

A more accurate release may have noted how closely the Comcast game resembles a House of Cards episode. The company has more than 100 registered lobbyists in D.C., at least five of whom are former congressmen. Their job, of course, is to solicit that very sort of overly fawning press release through a mix of charitable outreach and lobbying efforts.

These efforts include not just appeals to the politicians who have to approve the eventual deal but also targeted outreach campaigns aimed at various ethnic groups and their respective organizations.

The CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition put it quite simply in a quote from an interview with Comcast execs about the merger:

“You want us to support this? Then tell me what is there in this deal for Latino communities and other communities of color.”

The answer is generous donations and “programs to try to improve economic opportunities for minorities”. Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of congress-folk who support these mergers also receive contributions from company executives and related “political action committees.”

Comcast CEO David Cohen says it’s “offensive” to suggest that the company is buying support. It’s more like the way business is done.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.