B'casters donate major coin to campaigns

Cablers and broadcasters are contributing the most entertainment industry money to 2006 election campaigns, latest figures show.

The top 10 donors — in order, National Cable & Telecommunications Assn., Time Warner, Comcast, Clear Channel, National Assn. of Broadcasters, Viacom, Disney, News Corp., Sony Corp. and Bresnan Communications — account for $6.7 million of the total $15.2 million the entire industry has contributed so far in the current election cycle, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Overall, the industry continues to favor Democratic candidates, parties and organizations, which together received 59% of the donations vs. 40% going to Republican counterparts.

But some individual companies have sharply skewed preferences. Bresnan Communications, for instance, has given 90% of its total $224,600 to Republicans; CBS Corp. (ranked 19th, with $125,700 in contributions) has given 99% to Democrats.

Cablers and broadcasters have had several contentious issues before Congress this year, most notably involving the telecommunications reform legislation, which is still pending in the Senate, and a fine-boosting indecency bill, which already has been signed into law.

The industry’s favorite politician, at least in terms of giving money, continues to be Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who had taken in more than $531,000 as of the end of June, the most recent reporting date.

A seemingly unlikely recipient of industry money has been Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), who has been attacking the “Hollywood values” of his challenger, James Webb, a decorated Vietnam War veteran as well as a former Reagan administration official, bestselling author and occasional screenwriter.

Allen, often mentioned as one who will seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, has received a total $93,000 from Time Warner, News Corp., Comcast, Univision Communications, America Online, Krikorian Premiere Theaters, NAB, NCTA and Disney.

Downplaying any connection to Hollywood, a spokesman for Allen told the Washington Post, “I classify most of those as communications companies.” A spokesman for Webb said Allen is being “hypocritical.”

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