Companies with Stake in Net Neutrality Debate Have Financial Ties to Subcommittee Members Overseeing FCC

Sarang Shah | February 25, 2015

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Feb. 26, 2015 -- Earlier today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a proposed change to net neutrality rules outlined by commission chairman Tom Wheeler. These new rules reclassify the Internet as a Title II public utility, which would effectively prevent Internet service providers (ISPs) from discriminating for or against content providers in the speed at which their content is delivered to the consumer.

Several ISPs, Internet companies, advocacy groups, and trade associations have taken a position on these new rules. The major corporations against these net neutrality rules are the four largest ISPs: Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and AT&T. Netflix, Twitter, and Facebook are all members of the Internet Association, which has come out strongly in favor of Wheeler’s rules to reclassify the Internet under Title II.

The House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, which oversees the FCC, held a hearing to discuss the FCC’s proposed net neutrality regulations on Wednesday, Feb. 25.

Stock Ownership by Members of the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee

As of 2013, five of the 31 members of the subcommittee own stock in the companies listed above: Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ).

  • The five members own between $99,015 and $435,000 of stock in Internet providers. No members on the subcommittee reported owning stock in Netflix, Facebook, or Twitter.

Lobbying: MapLight analysis of lobbying spending by the top four internet service providers (Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, and AT&T) and three major corporate supporters of net neutrality (Netflix, Facebook, and Twitter), between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2014.

ISP Lobbying:

  • Comcast has spent $107,477,000 in lobbying since 2008
  • Time Warner Cable has spent $44,205,424 in lobbying since 2008.
  • Verizon has spent $109,490,000 in lobbying since 2008.
  • AT&T has spent $112,846,426 in lobbying since 2008.
Content Provider Lobbying:
  • Netflix has spent $4,135,000 in lobbying since 2009.
  • Facebook has spent $21,529,268 in lobbying since 2009.
  • Twitter has spent $400,000 in lobbying since 2013.

Previous MapLight analyses on Net Neutrality:

Feb. 23, 2015: Subcommittee Challenging FCC on Net Neutrality Receives 3x More in Contributions from Broadband Providers

Feb. 13, 2015: Sponsors of Net Neutrality Bill Receive Thousands from Internet Service Providers

May 16, 2014: Contributions to House Members Lobbying against Net Neutrality from Cable Interests (28 representatives signing letters to the FCC)

Note: This post was updated on Feb. 26, 2015 to reflect the FCC's passage of chairman Wheeler's proposed rules.

Personal Financial Disclosures Methodology: MapLight analysis of 2013 personal financial disclosures for members of the 114th Congress. Data source: Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives. House rules require the disclosure of assets belonging to the filers' spouses and/or dependent children, and these assets are included in the analysis. This analysis specifically investigates stocks and does not include other types of assets such as corporate bonds, notes, or bank deposits.

Lobbying MethodologyMapLight analysis of federal lobbying disclosure filings from the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2014. Lobbying totals represent money paid by an organization to each lobbying firm for services on all issues. Organizations report total lobbying expenses as a lump sum, which includes both in-house lobbying expenses and amounts paid to (and reported by) lobbying firms that they employ. MapLight calculates a given organization's in-house lobbying expenses by subtracting the total income reported by the lobbying firms that it employs from the company's total reported expenses. In general, filers may round their spending and expenses to the nearest $10,000, and we treat the designation of "Less than $5,000" as a value of $0. MapLight updates its lobbying database daily to capture amendments. Full reports are due on the 20th day of January, April, July, and October.

About MapLight: MapLight is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that tracs money's influence on politics. If our work has been helpful to you, please consider supporting us.