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NBCU and Comcast Lobby Hard in 4Q09

WASHINGTON: Media and media-related groups pressed lawmakers on issues ranging from royalties to energy efficiency during the last three months of 2009. The National Association of Broadcasters spent $3.25 million to lobby the U.S. government in the fourth quarter of 2009, $2.84 million more than it spent during 4Q08, Business Week said, and $1.98 million more than 3Q09. The group’s fourth-quarter full-court press involved fighting a movement by record labels to charge radio broadcasters royalties on the music they play.

Among other media groups, General Electric, parent company of NBC Universal, spent $6.8 million lobbying on behalf its various divisions, including finance, energy and defense. Comcast, which is attempting to buy a majority stake of NBCU from GE, spent $3.5 million in 4Q09. The Philadelphia cable giant lobbied lawmakers regarding the proposed deal as well as retransmission consent, network neutrality, sports programming exclusivity and online security.

The Walt Disney Co., parent of the ABC network and ESPN among other media properties, spent $1.09 million lobbying on the National Broadband Plan, among other items. CBS spent $1.35 million on TV and radio items, including a rumored resurrection of the Fairness Doctrine.

Dish Network spent $320,000 in the quarter lobbying on distant signal legislation. DirecTV spent $790,000 on distant signals as well as issues related to sports programming, content exclusivity, and states that tax satellite differently than cable TV.

Time Warner spent $800,000 on drug advertising and journalism shield laws.

The Consumer Electronics Association spent $490,000 on issues ranging from recycling to intellectual property.

The Motion Picture Association of America spent $440,000 to lobby on intellectual property rights and movie piracy.

Adobe Systems spent $70,000 in the fourth quarter on cyber-security and government procurement policy, AP said.

Google’s 4Q09 lobbying expenditure totaled $1.12 million, mostly on Internet issues rather than those involving broadcast spectrum. Google was instrumental in getting the FCC to allow unlicensed devices in broadcast white spaces. By comparison, Microsoft, also a white-space player, spent $1.69 million lobbying in 4Q09.