- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) - Comcast has apologized to a Seattle nonprofit called Reel Grrls after an executive told the organization that Comcast would no longer fund it because of its Twitter post questioning Comcast’s hiring of a member of the Federal Communications Commission.

Comcast said in a statement Thursday that the decision by Steve Kipp, a vice president of communications based near Seattle, was not authorized by the company and that corporate funding for Reel Grrls is “not in jeopardy.”

“We sincerely apologize for the unauthorized action of our employee,” the statement said. “This is not the way Comcast behaves toward its nonprofit partners.”

Reel Grrls teaches cinematography, script writing and other media production skills to teenage girls.

Kipp was reacting to a tweet from Reel Grrls last week about FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker’s plan to join Comcast as a lobbyist soon after voting to approve Comcast’s takeover of NBC Universal.

The tweet said: “OMG! (at)FCC Commissioner Baker voted 2 approve Comcast/NBC merger & is now lving FCC for A JOB AT COMCAST?!?”

The FCC cleared the Comcast-NBC Universal deal in a 4-to-1 vote in January, and the deal closed that month.

Baker, one of two Republicans on the five-member FCC, plans to leave the agency next month to become senior vice president of government affairs for NBCUniversal.

Her move has been widely criticized by public interest groups, pundits and others who say it is a clear conflict of interest and a blatant example of the revolving door between government and corporate America.

Comcast has said it did not begin discussions with Baker about a possible job until after the NBCUniversal transaction closed.

In an email sent to Reel Grrls last week, Kipp explained that Comcast could not continue to support an organization that has criticized the company.

“I hope you can respect that this Tweet has put me in an indefensible position with my bosses,” Kipp wrote. “I cannot continue to ask them to approve funding for Reel Grrls, knowing that the digital footprint your organization has created about Comcast is a negative one.”

Reel Grrls welcomed Comcast’s decision to back away from that position Thursday.

“We are pleased that the public debate on this issue has caused Comcast to reconsider this decision and hope to continue the discussion about how we can best ensure that corporations do not play a role in stifling free expression or limiting American’s access to information,” the organization said in a statement.

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