Comcast Deal Players Seek Info Protection

Object To Sharing Deal Details With Writers Guild West Official

Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications have all told the Federal Communications Commission they object to disclosing confidential deal information to the political director of the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW), suggesting that could open the floodgates and dilute the protection of their sensitive business information.

The FCC allows parties of interest in proposed mergers, including public advocacy groups, access to sensitive documents like contracts, through outside counsels and experts, but under pre-determined protective orders.

In a joint objection, the companies said the WGAW executive did not fit the criteria for access to highly confidential information about their proposed deal. That would be outside counsels, outside consultants and "any consultant or expert employed by a noncommercial participant in the proceeding."

They argue the political director is a lobbyist rather than a consultant or expert--he is not an attorney--and should not be allowed ot acces that either sensitive confidential or highly confidential material. They point out they have not objected to WGAW's director of research of public policy accessing the info.

The companies are concerned not only about WGAW but about the precedent it would set. Giving access to a political director who is "involved in lobbying and other political activities on behalf of WGAW and in WGAW’s political action committee," they argue, "will constitute an invitation for almost any employee of any Participant of an arguably 'non-commercial' nature to obtain access to Applicants’ most sensitive business information – information to which the Commission has rightly accorded the highest protection."

They argue the FCC did not mean for that to be the case.