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Cable Technology Feature Article

May 12, 2011

Obama FCC Appointee Takes Job at Comcast Following FCC Approval of Huge Comcast Deal

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Meredith Attwell Baker has left her job as commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission to accept a position as government affairs VP at NBCUniversal, shortly after the FCC (News - Alert) approved the $6.5 billion deal between NBCUniversal and Comcast.

Baker will join Comcast and serve as senior vice president of government affairs at NBCUniversal, according to PCMag.

The timing of the job switch is sure to raise some eyebrows, given the fact that in the Obama appointee’s government capacity, Baker helped Comcast (News - Alert) secure the huge deal they coveted. Kyle McSlarrow, former head of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and currently president of Comcast-NBCUniversal, noted Baker’s “exceptional relationships in Washington” when announcing her hiring.

“This is just the latest -- though perhaps most blatant -- example of a so-called public servant cashing in at a company she is supposed to be regulating,” Free Press president and CEO Craig Aaron said in a statement. “As recently as March, Commissioner Baker gave a speech lamenting that review of the Comcast-NBC deal ‘took too long.’ What we didn’t know then was that she was in such a rush to start picking out the drapes in her new corner office.”

The Washington Post’s tech biz blog noted that “in a statement announcing her resignation, Baker said she is most proud of the work she has done with FCC on spectrum reform. ‘It is the most important step we can take to ensure our nation’s competitiveness in an increasingly interconnected world,’ she said.”

Baker joined the FCC in July 2009, around the same time that the Senate confirmed current FCC chairman Julius Genachowski (News - Alert).

The way PCMag explains the FCC’s involvement in assisting Comcast, “in December 2009, Comcast brokered a deal with General Electric to acquire a 51 percent stake in NBC Universal for $6.5 billion. As part of the deal, GE acquired Vivendi’s (News - Alert) 20 percent stake in NBCU for $5.8 billion, putting GE’s stake at 49 percent. The FCC got involved because the deal involves a transfer of licenses.”

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Jennifer Russell