Report: Comcast Was Offered Chance to Buy Washington Post

Brian Roberts: "We agreed that the newspaper business wasn’t a good fit.”

The Financial Times has an in-depth look today at Comcast’s attempt to merge with Time Warner Cable that includes this unexpected tidbit: Before Amazon’s Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post last year, the Philly-based cable company was given a chance to buy.

Ralph Roberts, the 94-year-old co-founder of Comcast, was seriously ill last year, spending 85 days in bed after being stricken by double pneumonia. His son, Brian, Comcast’s chief executive, visited regularly to check on him and update him about the company – the largest cable television and broadband provider in the US and the owner of the NBCUniversal broadcast network and film studio.

During one visit, Mr Roberts told his father that Comcast had been approached to see if it was interested in buying The Washington Post. “My dad’s lying there and we agreed that the newspaper business wasn’t a good fit,” he recalls, sitting in his office at Comcast Center, the gleaming 58-floor skyscraper which towers over Philadelphia.

The Post was eventually bought by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. But Mr Roberts had also been approached by Glenn Britt, the late chief executive of Time Warner Cable, the second-largest cable operator, to discuss a deal. “I said to my dad: ‘What about Time Warner Cable?’” recalls Mr Roberts. “His eyes opened. He said: ‘For that, I’ll get better’.”

During the frequent ownership turnover at the Inquirer, Daily News and in recent years, there have occasionally been hopeful whispers, usually in the realm of fantasy, that a deep pocketed hometown media company — Comcast — might step in and run the joint. The Washington Post isn’t Comcast’s in hometown, of course, but it doesn’t sound like the company has much interest in jumping into the newspaper business.