Comcast spent heavily in support of anti-online piracy bills

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Outside lobbying firms for Comcast to have filed disclosures so far include the American Continental Group, or ACG Consultants, which said it received approximately $50,000 in the first quarter to lobby for the company's spectrum deal with Verizon, in addition to efforts to promote passage of SOPA and Protect IP.

The cable giant also turned to Robert Okun, who used to run NBC-Universal’s government relations shop before its merger with Comcast. Okun, now working under his own shingle as O Team LLC, raked in $80,000 in the first three months of the year to lobby in support of the anti-online piracy bills, as well as on cybersecurity and spectrum matters.

Comcast also paid $80,000 to Thorsen French Advocacy, home of Okun’s former NBC-Universal colleague Alec French, to lobby on online piracy, as well as for the Commercial Felony Streaming Act.

Comcast paid $30,000 to Multiple Strategies LLC to lobby on network neutrality, and another $30,000 to former Senate staffer Paul Unger. Unger, who reported lobbying on spectrum issues, FCC reform, Internet privacy and cybersecurity, filed under his own name, but is also listed as a principal in the lobbying firm owned by his old boss, former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.).

Comcast has yet to file disclosure forms for its in-house government-relations department, which is run by former National Cable and Telecommunications Association head Kyle McSlarrow. Those disclosures, as well as those from any outside consultants who haven't filed, are due April 20. 

Comcast was a strong supporter of SOPA and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act.

The bills were designed to go after foreign websites that offered illegal copies of movies, television programs and music. The bills would have empowered the Justice Department and copyright holders to demand that search engines and Internet providers delete links and access to sites suspected of copyright infringement. 

The entertainment industry and many business groups said the legislation was needed to protect copyright laws online. 

Lawmakers, however, dropped support for the bills after Internet companies and online activists blacked out many popular websites in a massive protest of the legislation, sparking public opposition to the measures.

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