From a Washingtonian magazine article about the NBC News program "Meet The Press," its owner Comcast and Comcast's Washington hand David Cohen:
Cohen knew about the money and shoe leather required to win friends in Washington. After taking over Comcast's government-affairs office in 2002, he had steadily beefed up the company's presence in the capital. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Cohen expanded its lobbying team from 31 bodies in 2002 to 103 in 2009, when the merger was announced, and increased its lobbying spending more than five-fold over the same period.
To rally political support for the merger, Comcast's political-action committee handed out campaign cash, and Cohen worked to head off the concerns over diversity. Between 2008 and 2010, Comcast's corporate foundation donated more than $3 million to 39 minority groups that wrote letters to federal regulators in support of the NBC deal. Comcast and NBC Universal also worked out an agreement with advocacy groups guaranteeing increased "minority participation in news and public affairs programming"—so long as the deal went through. And in 2009 and 2010, Comcast gave $155,000 to an organization founded by the Reverend Al Sharpton, who ended up endorsing the merger.
The campaign paid off. In January 2011, Washington approved the deal. One week later, NBC signed Cohen's old boss, Ed Rendell, to an on-air contract. At MSNBC, which Comcast also owns, Sharpton landed a talk show. A spokeswoman for Comcast says the company is a "long-standing supporter" of minority groups and had nothing to do with Sharpton's hiring. She also says Cohen played "little to no role" in securing Rendell's contract.
Take away the government's power to approve or disapprove these sorts of mergers and acquisitions, or of cable television generally, and the need for all this sort of activity would decline.