Comcast spent $111K lobbying city during franchise agreement talks - Technical.ly Philly

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Nov. 12, 2015 5:11 pm

Comcast spent $111K lobbying city during franchise agreement talks

Comcast nearly tripled its Philadelphia lobbying spend as the city entered into contract negotiations with the company. Councilman Bobby Henon, who's running a major hearing on the issue this afternoon, told us Council would not vote on the bill tonight.
At the Comcast franchise agreement City Council hearing, Nov. 12, 2015.

At the Comcast franchise agreement City Council hearing, Nov. 12, 2015.

(Photo by Juliana Reyes)

Full disclosure: Comcast was the title sponsor of Philly Tech Week 2015, which was organized by Technical.ly's events team.

Comcast nearly tripled its Philadelphia lobbying spending in the last six months, as the City of Philadelphia began its Comcast franchise negotiations, according to city records. It also acquired a lobbyist friendly to City Council: former Councilman Frank DiCicco.

On the other hand, the Media Mobilizing Project, which runs a Comcast accountability campaign, spent more than $29,000 lobbying City Council on the issue since January 2015, according to city records. MMP started lobbying on the issue three months sooner than Comcast.

Since April 2015, Comcast spent more than $111,000 lobbying City Council and officials in the Nutter administration, including those at the negotiating table like Chief Innovation Officer Adel Ebeid and Deputy CIO Steve Robertson, the bulk of which was spent on lobbying for the franchise renewal. Comcast spent a comparable amount — $108,000 — lobbying against the sick paid leave bill in 2013.

That’s up from the more than $41,000 that Comcast spent lobbying six months previous, from October 2014 to March 2015. From January 2014 to October 2014, Comcast spent less than $2,500 per quarter, so it didn’t file anything with the city, according to city records.

(From July to September, Comcast spent $62,000 on the franchise renewal, according to city data. From April to June, it spent nearly $49,000 but it’s unclear exactly how much was spent on the franchise because the city data does not provide a breakdown. The only other issue that Comcast lobbied on in that timeframe was the use and occupancy tax bill, which made up one-third of the 21 listed lobbying instances.)

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DiCicco started lobbying for Comcast in April 2015, according to city records. His other clients include Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust and real estate development firm Goldenberg Group. He was present at City Council’s hearing on the Comcast franchise renewal Thursday and confirmed to us that he was lobbying for Comcast.

When reached for comment, Comcast said in a statement: “The franchise renewal, and other topics that come before the City, are important to Comcast, its employees, customers and shareholders. It should come as no surprise that, like other companies, we employ lobbyists to help us work with policymakers and officials on issues and topics that affect our business in our hometown.”

City Council has the final approval of the Comcast franchise agreement. It’s currently holding a marathon hearing for the franchise, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Councilman Bobby Henon, who’s running the hearings, told us Council would not vote on the bill tonight. He will hold another hearing on Dec. 1.

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