Will Comcast pick the next president?

Control of cable advertising threatens to give it kingmaker status:

As traditional media companies go, few are bigger and more influential than Comcast, the Philadelphia-based company that owns NBC, MSNBC, “Saturday Night Live,” Universal Studios, Telemundo and cable television systems serving much of the United States. They’re such a big player, in fact, that one might call them the dominant actor in media.

That, per se, is not a problem. But with great power and media concentration come great responsibility to ensure diversity in the marketplace. This is true for both programming and advertising. The prospect, therefore, of Comcast trying to monopolize the business of selling ads on local cable systems is troubling.

Even with advent of internet-based messages sent to targeted voters directly, many believe local cable remains a powerful political advertising platform. Over the last few years the business has grown by more than 50 percent to about $1.3 billion.

Local cable systems allow campaigns to target voters they want to reach without having to spend a lot of money to get to voters that don’t matter. A candidate running for Virginia governor relying solely on broadcast television would have to buy time on television stations in Washington, D.C. It’s expensive and reaches voters in the nation’s capital, Maryland, West Virginia and perhaps even parts of Delaware who can’t vote in Virginia gubernatorial contests

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