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Democratic Dissonance Appears To Flood Docket

At press time Friday, the most recent postings on the FCC’s online docket containing comments on the Comcast/NBCU merger were all from high-level Democrats with concerns about the deal, even as commissioners are closing in on avote on draft approval.

As of press time Friday morning, the seven most recent filings were from a Who’s Who of Democrats overseeingcommunications policy, including Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass), chair of the Communications Subcommittee, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chair of the Commerce Committee, Henry Waxman, former chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Ed Markey, former chair of the House Communications Subcommittee, and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), arguably the deal’s harshest critic, though Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is in the running (though not among the names currently at the top of the docket hit parade.

Rep. Ann Eshoo (though spelled “Eshow) appeared just before I filed this. Also a Democrat, also with concerns.

Franken wants the deal blocked, while the rest express concern about the size of the merger, the importance of getting the conditions right for consumers. Two of the letters, from Franken and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) reference the Level 3 complaint against Comcast, an issue heating up last week with that company’s push forconditions on the merger stemming its dispute with Comcast over network peering agreements and the price of access.

While all the letters and comments had Jan. 4 post dates, some of them had “received” dates  as far back as Dec. 16, and some of those were dated even earlier than that.

The times between the “received” and “posted” dates can vary in FCC dockets, but most are posted within a day or twoof receipt.

Why the Friday morning data drop of comments from concerned Democrats?

All the filings dated from December include the letters FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski had sent back in response, so it could be “transparency” housekeeping–putting the reponses in the docket as well as the original letters–as the FCC prepares to OK the deal.

The two most recent letters, from Kerry and Eshoo, did not have accompanying chairman responses, but those two were received relatively recently– Jan. 5– and were first-time postings.

An FCC official speaking on background offered a different explanation, saying that the letters from the Hill had to go through the Office of Legislative Affairs, and so were on a different track and timeline. But presumably letters were coming in from Republicans as well, and it still wasn’t exactly clear why the comments, even if they had to be routed through that office, took as long as they did to be posted, particularly from the kind of names that legislative affairs folks would certainly recognize as post-worthy.