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Top Cable Lobbyist Wants FCC to Stop Reviewing Mergers
Though Powell Doesn't Realize How Lucky He Has Been
by Karl Bode 08:14AM Wednesday Nov 28 2012
Former FCC Commissioner turned cable lobbyist Michael Powell this week proclaimed that the FCC should be stripped of their authority to review mergers. Speaking at a Brookings Institution forum Tuesday in Washington, Powell insisted that the FCC should be removed from the merger review process because he claims the agency is duplicating the efforts of Justice and the FTC for "trivial gains compared with the cost of the exercise."

Powell, whose tenure at the FCC focused on ignoring market problems and hyping broadband over powerline technology despite its horrible interference issues, insists he's only trying to help:
He also suggested that the "dark side" of the FCC's merger review role was a sort of conditions "bazaar" created by the vague public interest standard.

While Justice and the FTC review deals for antitrust, the FCC's review extends beyond that to whether the deal is in the "public interest." Powell, formerly an antitrust attorney at Justice, said that the process becomes one of companies putting enough "goodies" on the scale to satisfy the FCC, even if they have nothing to do with a particular harm, even if they are not something the FCC could not have otherwise done, and even if it is not clear the FCC even has the authority to impose them.
Powell doesn't have much to complain about, given the FCC granted Comcast's acquisition of NBC, and like most of the mergers they approve, assigned conditions (recommended by the cable industry) that were primarily for show. Powell of course, like any lobbyist, just wants the regulators who oversee his sector to be utterly powerless. Things could be worse for him: we could have regulators in this country who actually stand up for the public interest and impose tough rules in exchange for deal approval -- given that's what real regulators with spines do.

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reply to battleop

Re: Corruption

Well, actually, they do not pay more. Health care costs are 3 times 'lower' per capita overseas, when compared to what we spend here. Even Switzerland, which is has best ranked and most expensive NHS in the world, is 2 to 3 times cheaper than our system to operate.

This isn't the 80's and the world has changed. As with most things nowadays, like our Presidential model, nobody but 3rd world countries are left using our GOP endorsed approach to everything.

In addition, since most other advanced economies do not use our archaic, inefficient, and ironically highly bureaucratic states / county rights system, they are able to realize economies of scale; so my effective tax rates were essentially the same when I live abroad. Not wasting $1 Trillion a year on defense helped my taxes too.

In return for these taxes, I received a range of services and perks. Not to mention, their infrastructure, quality of life, condition of their towns, cities, streets, roads etc were cutting-edge and second to none.


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Former FCC Commissioner turned cable lobbyist Michael Powell

Can you say corruption!