Cable Giants Pull Funding for Dinner Honoring FCC Commissioner

Following critical reporting this week of cable and broadband giants Comcast and Time Warner Cable funding a dinner honoring FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn—one of the regulators reviewing the companies’ proposed $45-billion-dollar merger—the two companies decided Thursday to pull the combined $132,000 they had committed to the event.

Comcast, in addition to pulling the $110,000 that it had committed, is requesting that there be no recognition of the company at the dinner, according to a letter (PDF) from Comcast’s Vice President of Community Investment Charisse Lillie to the foundation putting on the event. To make up for the pulling of its funding, Lillie added, Comcast “will instead make an unrestricted contribution to the Kaitz Foundation in the amount of $110,000 so that the Foundation can continue its important work.”

According to Politico, Time Warner spokesman Bobby Amirshahi said that the company had informed the Walter Kaitz Foundation via phone of its decision to follow Comcast’s lead and pull their $22,000 contribution.

The Kaitz Foundation is an industry-funded not-for-profit that “seeks to advance the contributions of women and multi-ethnic professionals in cable,” according to its website.

While Commissioner Clyburn’s office said on Wednesday that “it makes sense to honor a champion of diversity and inclusion, the first African American woman on the commission and the only woman in the commission’s 80-year history to serve as its chair,” it is notably the first time since the foundation was founded in 1981 that a sitting FCC chairman has been the honoree of the annual dinner. The honoree is chosen by the foundation’s dinner committee, which includes Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and several other telecom executives, according to foundation spokeswoman Joy Sims.