FCC commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker will take a senior lobbying position at Comcast’s Washington office as her term on the commission expires at the end of June.
Baker will join Comcast as senior vice president of government affairs of NBC Universal. Her final day at the FCC will be on June 3.
The move comes four months after the FCC gave the greenlight to Comcast’s combination with NBC Universal. Baker, along with fellow Republican Robert McDowell, approved the transaction but said at the time in a joint statement that the FCC’s approach to the review process had become “excessively coercive and lengthy” and that it went “too far” in extracting conditions from the companies.
Baker will report to Kyle McSlarrow, president of Comcast/NBCUniversal for Washington DC, and will work closely with Rick Cotton, NBCU’s executive vice president and general counsel.
Baker has been a member of the FCC since July 2009, having been nominated by President Obama. She previously served as acting assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information and acting administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration under President George W. Bush.
“I’ve been privileged to serve in government for the past seven years under President Obama at the FCC and President Bush at NTIA. I’ excited to embark on a new phase of my career with Comcast and NBCUniversal,” Baker said.
As could probably be expected, public interest groups that were critical of the Comcast-NBCU transaction blasted Baker’s move.
Craig Aaron, CEO of Free Press, said in a statement, “This is just the latest — though perhaps most blatant — example of a so-called public servant cashing in at a company she is supposed to be regulating.
“As recently as March, Commissioner Baker gave a speech lamenting that review of the Comcast-NBC deal ‘took too long.’ What we didn’t know then was that she was in such a rush to start picking out the drapes in her new corner office.”
A Comcast spokeswoman said that discussions started with Baker months after the transaction was approved, when Bob Okun, the head of its Washington operations, announced his departure in April.
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement, “For the past two years, it’s been my privilege to serve with Meredith Baker as the FCC has navigated the communications challenges of the 21st century. Meredith’s wonderful spirit, broad experience and deep policy acumen have made the FCC a more effective agency. She’s made our decisions smarter and our policies better. I wish her well in her new role at NBC Universal.”