The threat of telecom legislation helped to push cable’s lobbying expenditures for the first half of ’06 to nearly double the spending for the same time period a year ago. NCTA spent $6.54mln on lobbying from Jan 1-June 30, according to filings with the House Clerk’s Office. That compares to just $3.34mln for the first half of ’05. Need more evidence of just how critical this year’s legislative battle has been? NCTA’s 6 months of ’06 spending is close to the $7mln spent in total for 2005. The cable association isn’t the only one doling out more dollars as it battles against net neutrality and for parity in telecom legislation. Telco group US Telecom poured nearly $15.3mln into lobbying for the first half of ’06, up 34% from $11.4mln for the first half of ’05. NAB’s spending is up just 9.7% to $4.28mln this year. Meanwhile, individual companies are also shelling out more. eBay, a huge proponent of net neutrality regulations, increased its lobbying expenditures 171% to $1.085mln from $400K for the first half of ’05. Verizon’s spending rose 78% to $4.6mln this year, while AT&T (now merged with SBC) increased spending more than 200% to $5.5mln. Cable’s largest MSO is also tops in lobby spending among cable operators, with Comcast’s first-half spending jumping to $2.78mln this year from $1.71mln for the same period in ’05. Lobby expenditures for Time Warner Inc, which includes Time Warner Cable, remained flat for both periods at $1.96mln.