Comcast names VP for public policy, adds to growing high-profile D.C. roster


The news ticker outside the Today Show announces GE's sale of NBC to Comcast, in New York, Dec. 3, 2009. (CHIP EAST/REUTERS)

Arbogast will coordinate public policy across the cable, Internet and media giant and report to Kyle McSlarrow, who joined the firm earlier this year after serving as the cable industry’s lead lobbyist for the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. She begins her new position on Sept. 19.

“I feel beyond fortunate that I’m leaving one great firm and set of people to join another,” Arbogast wrote in a mass e-mail to business and personal contacts. “And I’m looking forward to continuing to work with most of you from a different perch.”

Arbogast is a veteran of the Federal Communications Commission, where in the late 1990s she served as chief of the international bureau telecommunications division. She has been an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus since 2005.

“Rebecca has had a distinguished career and is widely respected for her insightful understanding of the telecommunications and media landscape from a strategic business, legal and regulatory perspective,” McSlarrow said in a statement.

Last May, Comcast ignited a firestorm of criticism for how it handled negative feedback after it hired former FCC Republican commissioner Meredith Atwell Baker. Baker was hired just months after she voted in favor of Comcast’s joint venture with NBC Universal.

Comcast, the nation’s biggest cable and Internet service provider, has among the strongest lobbying forces of telecom and cable companies in Washington. Even with its venture approved last January, it continued to increase its lobbying efforts. In the second quarter, Comcast spent $4.8 million on lobbying according to Senate disclosure documents. That’s up 26 percent from $3.8 million spent in the second quarter of 2010.

In the second quarter of this year, Comcast canvassed the Hill to argue for greater intellectual property enforcement — a key battle for NBC Universal. It also lobbied on cybersecurity. And it has argued against proposed regulations by the Federal Communications Commission on Internet access rules.

In addition, Comcast has weighed in proposals for reforms on retransmission consent fees between cable operators and broadcasters, online video program access, set top box rules, and Universal Service Fund reforms that would put federal funds into broadband Internet projects.

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Cecilia Kang is a senior technology correspondent for The Washington Post.

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