Mignon Clyburn, FCC Commissioner, will be honored in a dinner sponsored by Time Warner Cable and Comcast. This seems to be controversial as there is an impending FCC approval of a merger between the two.
The annual dinner for the Walter Kaitz Foundation will be held in September. Clyburn, a Democrat and former acting chairwoman of the FCC, will be receiving a special "diversity advocate" award in an event where Comcast is a top-level sponsor donating $110,000 to the foundation that supports diversity.
On the other hand, Time Warner Cable already gave $22,000 on May 14 according to a disclosure. The two companies said they have been supporting the foundation for years. While donating money is not against any rule, the timing is questionable.
"I think that the timing is curious. They're honoring an FCC commissioner at the exact same time they're trying to get approval for a merger. And that doesn't look so good," Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics's research director Carrie Levine said.
The FCC and the Justice Department are reviewing the multibillion-dollar deal of Time Warner and Comcast. The deal worth $45 billion would give Comcast 40 percent of the broadband market and 30 percent of pay-TV subscribers in the United States.
The two companies merging together would give them huge control of the market so some groups are not in favor of the deal. But for the two, they are simply doing this to improve and increase their investment in Internet and cable technologies. It has nothing to do with the merger.
"We absolutely dispute the notion that our contributions have anything to do with currying favor with Commissioner Clyburn or any honoree," Sena Fitzmaurice Comcast spokeswoman said.
"Such claims are insulting and not supported by any evidence. They are purely fiction. We have supported the organization year in and year out regardless of who the dinner honorees have been," Fitzmaurice added.
Bobby Amirshahi, Time Warner Cable spokesman, said the company has been donating to the foundation.
"The foundation is the centerpiece of this industry's efforts to not just recruit but to advance and train people of multi-ethnicity. The reality is the honoree was not a consideration for us as one of many companies that supported the dinner," Bobby Amirshahi said.