Industry pays a lot to play in D.C. game

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WASHINGTON -- When it comes to lobbying, the entertainment industry is no slouch, spending more than $27.5 million this year in its efforts to win favors from the government, according to an examination of disclosure reports.

The television, movie and music sectors ranked 15th in spending through the first half of the year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics tally of lobbying disclosure reports that are filed semi-annually with the secretary of the Senate.

While the $27,500,310 that the motion picture, TV and music industry spent is a big number, it's dwarfed by the $89.3 million spent by the pharmaceutical and health products industries. It also is substantially less than that doled out by the entertainment industries' traditional foes -- the computer and Internet industries -- which spent $35.7 million.

Since 1998, companies and entities in the entertainment industry have spent nearly $438.7 million, according to the CRP analysis. The entertainment industry ranks 16th in the CRP's list of big spenders.

Again, those totals seem small when compared with the nearly $1.2 billion spent by the makers of drugs and other health products. The insurance industry was second at a little less than $945 million. Computer and Internet companies ranked fourth at $666.2 million, according to the CRP.

While the amount of money the companies and other entities spent is significant, it would be a mistake to paint the entertainment industry as a monolith. Many of the companies spend as much time fighting one another in the Capitol, at the White House and in executive agencies like the FCC as they do fighting other industrial powers.

Lobbying expenditures also rise and fall as companies and industries push broad policy agendas or specific items. Some companies disappear as they are bought out, but their lobbying expenditures often rise during a merger period. Such companies as XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio are attempting to merge, and DirecTV's $640,000 in lobbying expenditures are now counted under News Corp.

The following are totals for selected companies and other entities of interest as compiled by the CRP for the reporting period Jan. 1 through Aug. 14: ASCAP ($431,250); Belo Corp. ($315,000); BMI ($620,000); Clear Channel ($1.2 million); Comcast ($3.9 million); Cox ($2 million); the Walt Disney Co. ($2.2 million); EchoStar ($350,000); EMI ($190,000); MPAA ($900,000); National Association of Broadcasters ($4.28 million); NBC Universal ($160,000, but General Electric's total is $11.9 million); National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. ($2.1 million); News Corp. ($1 million); RIAA ($658,747); Sirius ($230,000); Sony/BMG entertainment divisions ($925,000); Time Warner entertainment divisions ($1.9 million); Viacom ($775,000); Univision ($160,000); UMG ($350,000); XM ($215,000); and Warner Music Group ($197,500).
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