FCC commissioner leaves for Comcast

Meredith Attwell Baker is leaving the FCC for Comcast, just months after the FCC approves the merger between Comcast and NBC Universal.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read

One of the FCC commissioners who approved the Comcast/NBC Universal deal is leaving the commission to work for Comcast.

Meredith Attwell Baker, one of two Republican commissioners on the Federal Communications Commission, announced today that she is leaving her government post when her term expires in June. Baker was appointed to the FCC by President Obama in July 2009.

Baker's new title at Comcast will be senior vice president of government affairs.

Baker was one of four members of the FCC, who approved the Comcast's deal to acquire ownership of NBC Universal in January. The vote at the FCC passed 4 to 1. Commissioner Michael Copps, a democrat, was the only one who opposed the deal.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) was a major opponent of the merger, along with several consumer advocacy groups.

"When the same company owns the content and the pipes that deliver that content, consumers lose," Franken said in a video statement in January. Comcast executives have argued that consumers will actually get more programming choices because of the merger.

It' s not unusual for FCC commissioners and staff to take jobs with companies that they regulate. And there are rules that govern their interaction with the agency once they move into these positions.

For example, Baker signed a pledge when she took office that she would not be lobby anyone at the FCC for two years after her departure, the New York Times reported. In addition, Baker will not be able to lobby other political appointees at the FCC for as long as President Obama is office, the newspaper said.

And finally, she is banned for life from lobbying any executive branch agency, including the FCC, when it comes to the conditions that the FCC put on the Comcast/NBC deal.

Still, consumer advocates, who were opposed to the Comcast/NBC merger were critical of Baker's career move. Craig Aaron, the president and chief executive of Free Press, a media interest group that had opposed the Comcast-NBC merger.

"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," Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free press, in a statement. "No wonder the public is so nauseated by business as usual in Washington, where the complete capture of government by industry barely raises any eyebrows."

Mr. Aaron said. "The continuously revolving door at the FCC continues to erode any prospects for good public policy."