Showbiz spends big on lobbying

Comcast leads the pack in wooing Washington legislators

Officially, Congress makes the laws in the United States. But companies, industries and interest groups can have a great deal of influence over the process by having lobbyists whisper in legislators’ ears.

That takes money, and the amount spent on lobbying can be a rough gauge of an industry’s political muscle.

Through the first nine months of 2011, showbiz (categorized as TV/movies/music) spent $91.8 million on lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. So far this year, the industry ranked fifth in spending. Topping the list of industries is pharmaceuticals/health products at $181.7 million.

Among entertainment industry players, the biggest spenders this year have been Comcast ($14.7 million), the National Cable and Telecommunications Assn. ($13.1 million), the National Assn. of Broadcasters ($10.4 million), Time Warner Cable ($6.1 million) and National Amusements ($5.6 million).

Comcast ranks seventh among all lobbying entities this year, racking up less than one third the $46.2 million in lobbying expenditures of the perennial leader, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.