Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Time Warner Cable and the Audacity of Hope

December 1, 2008

It’s not every day that you have a top executive in big business talk about how nice it will be to see the back of the Bush administration. Republican presidencies typically tout their adherence to free markets, unbridled capitalism and, most importantly, a smaller pile of what corporations often consider burdensome regulations. That isn’t what they usually expect from Democratic administrations, even ones led by Barack Obama.

That’s why we thought it so interesting that Time Warner Cable’s chief financial officer, Rob Marcus, is happy for some turnover at the Federal Communications Commission. It is the FCC, after all, that has to approve some key licenses for Time Warner Cable’s split from its majority owner, Time Warner Inc. For some reason, the FCC can’t seem to find room on its schedule to do that, and that seems to have irked Marcus. It is, after all, preventing the two companies from separating by the time Time Warner Cable said it would.

“There’s nothing substantive that has currently arisen in connection with the FCC approval. They just haven’t put it on the agenda,” he told the Reuters Media Summit in New York on Monday.

The FCC has made no special demands, he said. Rather, it just hasn’t seen fit. He did note that Chairman Kevin Martin, a Republican, seems to be the stick in the mud, but declined to talk more about why he thinks this.

So what is he looking for from a commission where three of its five members are selected by the upcoming Obama administration?

“We’re looking forward to a little more rationality.”

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