The SOPA/PIPA Money Trail

Before the Web blacked out to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) — the Internet-censorship bills that faced massive opposition online — there was another SOPA blackout. This one came courtesy of the TV news networks, which almost uniformly ignored SOPA and PIPA until it was impossible not to.

Media Matters report showed that in the run-up to Jan. 18, when Wikipedia, Google, Reddit and other big sites joined millions of Internet users in one of the biggest online protests to date, only CNN mentioned SOPA and/or PIPA in its nightly news coverage.


Corporate lobbying among the owners of TV networks jumped in the last quarter of 2011.

Meanwhile, ABC, CBS, Fox News, MSNBC and NBC were silent. Not surprisingly, the corporate parents of these news outlets — Disney, CBS Corp., News Corp. and Comcast, respectively — were supporters of the bill. Since 1989, these companies have spent a fortune — nearly a billion dollars — lobbying for favorable legislation in Washington.

Now another Media Matters report shows how much these corporations spent on lobbying in the fourth quarter of 2011 — just as the SOPA/PIPA fight was heating up.

While it’s hard to suss out exactly how many dollars went solely to lobbying on SOPA/PIPA, a picture of financial influence emerges when you look at the numbers:

Combined, the organizations spent $182,500 on lobbying contracts with firms that lobbied solely on SOPA/PIPA, and an additional $2,022,500 on contracts with firms that lobbied on SOPA/PIPA in addition to a range of other issues.

Comcast, Disney et al. are probably none too happy about spending up to $2 million on bills that have since been shelved indefinitely. Maybe they should have funneled the money into things like fixing NBC’s failed Wonder Woman pilot.

Photo credit: Pen Waggener via Flickr

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