On the same day Comcast announced it was buying a 51 percent stake in General Electric's NBC Universal, its CEO sent a letter to President Obama supporting the Senate's healthcare bill.
At virtually the same time, high-ranking Democrats in the House and Senate said Thursday they will closely scrutinize the proposed alliance to determine its impact on the media marketplace.
Here's the letter from Comcast's Brian Roberts to Obama (h/t Politico):
Dear Mr. President: [...]
Because of our announcement today that we have formed a joint venture with General Electric consisting of NBCU's businesses and Comcast's cable networks, I am unable to attend the Summit. I very much appreciate the outreach to the business community, and want to express one of the thoughts I intended to make at the Summit -- that enactment of comprehensive health care reform legislation is, in my judgment, critical to putting this country on a path of sustained growth and prosperity.
As the nation's largest cable and broadband company with over 100,000 employees in 36 states and the District of Columbia, we are proud to offer health insurance to all Comcast employees. But sadly, there are millions of Americans who simply cannot afford to get sick, as health coverage gets increasingly difficult to secure and the resultant demands placed on federal and state budgets are enormous. This cycle is not sustainable.
While there has been much controversy and debate over hundreds of provisions and alternatives, it is my view that the current legislation pending in the Senate provides a workable framework for this country to take an important step toward enhancing health care accessibility, promoting operational efficiencies and technological innovation, and reducing the cost of health care and the federal deficit. My support of meaningful health care reform is buttressed by the estimate by the Congressional Budget Office that, while the Senate legislation would cost $848 billion, it would also reduce budget deficits by $130 billion over the next decade. A strong dose of fiscal responsibility will be essential to achieve meaningful health care reform and lasting economic recovery. [...]
I want to commend you for your dedication to health care reform and for the remarkable progress that has been achieved in this area under your leadership. We cannot allow perfection to stand in the way of critically needed and very good legislation, which is why I support your efforts. Comcast stands ready to assist you and this nation in the effort to enact sensible health care reform. We also look forward to working with your Administration to make health care information technology the best in the world.
Moments after the deal was announced, The Hill reported:
The proposed Comcast-NBC Universal merger (see earlier post) will be getting some tough scrutiny by the federal government.
Key lawmakers and regulators say they will review the deal in detail to ensure it does not harm the industry or consumers.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Commerce Committee, said the agreement "has the potential to reshape the media marketplace."
"This proposal raises questions regarding diversity, competition, and the future of the production and distribution of video content across broadcasting, cable, online, and mobile platforms," he said in a statement. "It is imperative that the FCC, the Justice Department, and the FTC rigorously assess whether this transaction is in the public interest." [...]
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, said the Comcast-NBC deal "is extremely significant in scope and raises some complex questions."
"My subcommittee will monitor that process closely to ensure that any legitimate anticompetitive and public interest concerns are fully addressed.”
As this alliance has been rumored for several months, it seems quite logical Roberts was expecting Congressional scrutiny.
Is this why he sent his healthcare endorsement to Obama on the very day the deal was announced?
Photo illustration above via www.thewrap.com.