The National Cable & Telecommunications Association has sponsored more trips by federal officials, their staffs and their family members since 2000 than any other companies and organizations associated with the broadcasting and telecommunications industries, according to a report released Wednesday.
The report, by the Center for Public Integrity, found that the NCTA paid for 102 trips costing nearly $200,000. Next was the United States Telecom Association, paying for 62 trips that cost about $107,000.
"As a result of the cable industry's $85 billion investment to launch new broadband services, cable consumers are enjoying high-speed Internet service, HDTV and new interactive-digital-video services,” NCTA senior vice president of communications and public affairs Rob Stoddard said in a prepared statement.
“Educating policy makers and regulators about cable's new offerings in this rapidly developing environment is critical for informed policymaking,” he added.
The travel spending was just one element of a comprehensive report that focused on political spending -- lobbying costs, campaign contributions and paid travel -- by cable, radio and TV stations, as well as local and long-distance phone companies.
The CPI study found that since 1998, the industries surveyed spent a combined $1.1 billion “to affect election outcomes and influence legislation before Congress and the White House.”
Lobbying expenses totaled $957 million, campaign contributions $145.6 million and paid travel for lawmakers and federal regulators $704,000, the report said.
The CPI said a team of 12 researchers spent eight months compiling the data, examining House and Senate records and Federal Election Commission filings.