A New York Lawmaker Copied Comcast’s Merger Talking Points Word-for-Word

Assembly Leader Joe Morelle pulled quotes from Comcast statements.

The Comcast Center, which is Comcast Corporate headquarters, is seen December 3, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Comcast Corp. announced December 3, that it will acquire a majority stake in NBC Universal Inc., paying GE 6.5 billion dollars. 
National Journal
Brendan Sasso
Aug. 15, 2014, 8:57 a.m.

A top New York state law­maker lif­ted quotes dir­ectly from Com­cast talk­ing points for a let­ter sup­port­ing the cable com­pany’s planned pur­chase of Time Warner Cable.

Earli­er this month, state As­sembly Lead­er Joe Mo­relle sent a let­ter to the New York State Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion, ur­ging the reg­u­lat­ory agency to ap­prove the deal. Al­most every sen­tence in the let­ter mir­rors Com­cast state­ments in either con­gres­sion­al testi­mony or press re­leases.

The ad­vocacy group Stop the Cap, which is lob­by­ing against the deal, spot­ted the sim­il­ar­it­ies Thursday and ac­cused the law­maker of pla­gi­ar­ism.

“Mo­relle evid­ently ig­nored or was un­aware of his con­stitu­ents’ over­whelm­ing op­pos­i­tion to the mer­ger deal and seemed un­fazed about Com­cast’s long re­cord of dread­ful cus­tom­er ser­vice, con­stant rate in­creases, and the com­pany’s plan to re­im­ple­ment us­age lim­its on con­sumer broad­band ac­counts,” the group wrote.

Sean Hart, a spokes­man for Mo­relle, ac­know­ledged that Com­cast asked the As­sembly lead­er to write the let­ter. It’s “stand­ard,” Hart said, for com­pan­ies to provide tem­plate let­ters to politi­cians when ask­ing for their sup­port.

“We made sev­er­al ed­its to that let­ter but more or less kept the body of that let­ter, the main points we agreed with,” he ex­plained.

The law­maker sup­ports the deal be­cause he be­lieves it will im­prove In­ter­net ac­cess in up­state New York, Hart said. But he denied the pla­gi­ar­ism charge, say­ing it’s only pla­gi­ar­ism if an au­thor uses an­oth­er per­son’s work without per­mis­sion.

“Mo­relle has au­thor­iz­a­tion from Com­cast to use the lan­guage in­cluded in his let­ter,” the spokes­man said. Ex­amples of identic­al or sim­il­ar text in­clude:

Mo­relle’s let­ter of Aug. 8:

“The com­bin­a­tion of Com­cast and Time Warner Cable will cre­ate a world-class com­mu­nic­a­tions, me­dia and tech­no­logy com­pany to help meet the in­creas­ing con­sumer de­mand for ad­vanced di­git­al ser­vices on mul­tiple devices in homes, work­places and on-the-go.”

Com­cast ex­ec­ut­ive Dav­id Co­hen’s testi­mony to the Sen­ate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee on April 9:

“The com­bin­a­tion of Com­cast and TWC will cre­ate a world-class com­mu­nic­a­tions, me­dia, and tech­no­logy com­pany to help meet the in­sa­ti­able con­sumer de­mand for ad­vanced di­git­al ser­vices on mul­tiple devices in homes, work­places, and on-the-go.”

 

Mo­relle:

“Com­cast has a proven re­cord of in­vest­ing in new tech­no­lo­gies, fa­cil­it­ies and cus­tom­er sup­port to provide the best in broad­band In­ter­net ac­cess, video and di­git­al voice ser­vices.”

Co­hen:

“Com­cast has a proven re­cord of in­vest­ing in new tech­no­lo­gies, fa­cil­it­ies, and cus­tom­er sup­port to provide the best in broad­band In­ter­net ac­cess, video, and di­git­al voice ser­vices.”

Mo­relle:

“Sim­il­arly, TWC has made sig­ni­fic­ant strides in of­fer­ing a di­verse ar­ray of video, broad­band, and voice ser­vices to its cus­tom­ers.”

Co­hen:

“Sim­il­arly, TWC has made sig­ni­fic­ant strides in of­fer­ing a di­verse ar­ray of video, broad­band, and voice ser­vices to its cus­tom­ers.”

A Com­cast spokes­per­son said the com­pany has been “been reach­ing out to policy makers around the coun­try to de­tail the pub­lic in­terest be­ne­fits of our trans­ac­tion with Time Warner Cable.”

“When policy makers in­dic­ate they’d like to sup­port our trans­ac­tion in pub­lic fil­ings, we’ve provided them with in­form­a­tion on the trans­ac­tion, in­clud­ing our past pub­lic state­ments and testi­mony,” the spokes­per­son said. “All fil­ings are ul­ti­mately de­cided upon by the filers, not Com­cast.”

Ac­cord­ing to pub­lic dis­clos­ures, the cable com­pany donated $1,000 to Mo­relle’s cam­paign in Janu­ary. Time Warner Cable has donated $5,500 to the law­maker’s polit­ic­al cam­paigns since 2011.

“”This post was up­dated with a com­ment from Com­cast.

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