Charter beefs up D.C. lobbying ranks as merger reviews get underway

Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) is moving fast to bolster its Washington, D.C., influence by hiring a wide range of high-profile lobbyists as it looks to close two big pay-TV mergers.

Ed Pagano charter

Pagano

According to FCC filings obtained by The Hill, the St. Louis MSO has signed up such well-known Beltway figures as lobbyist Ed Pagano, a former deputy assistant to legislative affairs for the Obama Administration, and Timothy Kurth, a former policy advisor to embattled former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). The company also put two outside firms on retainer: Peck Madigan Jones will work on "telecommunications and antitrust matters," while the Franklin Square Group will also work for Charter.

Additionally, Charter has hired net neutrality advocate Marvin Ammori as consultant. He'll work closely with Catherine Bohigian, Charter's executive VP of government affairs, to evaluate merger conditions.

"In general, we don't want to find that we're in a crucial part of the process and find that we don't have the resources to do what we need to do," Alex Dudley, Charter's SVP of communications, told The Hill.

Charter now has nine outside lobbyists, according to the D.C. publication, well short of the 76 Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) hired in the immediate aftermath of its ultimately unsuccessful Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) bid in 2014.

Charter is looking to close not only a $56.7 billion purchase of TWC but also a $10.4 billion deal to acquire Bright House Networks. The FCC has started its regulatory review of both mergers. 

"When we contemplate running a transaction like this through the Washington approval process, we have a staff in D.C. of less than 10," Charter's Dudley added. "When you start to think about how do you go about telling your story to all of the different people who can have an impact on its success inside the Beltway, you look at 10 people and say there is no way we can do that. So we have to get help."

For more:
- read this story from The Hill

Related articles:
Netflix to support Charter's bid for TWC, Bright House in exchange for free network use
Charter says it will 'go further' than net neutrality for merger approval
FCC starts review of Charter's TWC and Bright House deals

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