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Franken Looks To Leverage Comcast/NBCU Bashing Into Bucks

Minnesota Democrat Al Franken was looking to leverage his high-profile criticism of the Comcast/NBCU merger into some cash for his campaign down the road.

Franken got national attention with his grilling of NBCU President Jeff Zucker and Comcast Chairman Brian Roberts during last week's Hill hearings on the proposed $30 billion joint venture.

He took particular issue with NBC's stand back in the 1990's on sunsetting the financial interest and syndication rules that prevented networks from taking a financial interest in the domestic syndication of their prime time programming. While NBC claimed it would not push independents off the network schedules, Franken said that had been the result.

Franken said he did not trust the public interest pledges of the two companies, one of which was his former stomping grounds (he was a writer/performer on NBC's Saturday Night Live).

Franken echoed that distrust in an e-mail solicitation Wednesday (Feb. 10).

"Combining a company who provides programming and one who provides the pipes that carry said programming would almost certainly be a raw deal for consumers and independent content producers alike," he said. "Click here to represent your opposition to this merger by supporting the vocal opposition (me) with a small, secure grassroots donation today!"

Franken also cited the Supreme Court decision to allow direct corporate funding of campaign ads as another reason to help him out.

"I also realize that given the recent Citizens United decision in the U.S. Supreme Court, corporations can now turn around and spend millions running ads telling voters I want to blow up their TV, a patently untrue claim that they've got no research to support, by the way."