Diversity concerns with Comcast/NBCU merger

Seeking approval for its big NBC merger, cable giant's pledge to add minority voices is soundly dismissed at hearing.

By TheWrap Jun 7, 2010 8:33PM

It's not enough.


That was a message emphatically delivered Monday by several members of Congress and numerous minority producers and diversity-minded media-business watchdog groups to Comcast and NBC Universal, at a House Judiciary Committee hearing conducted in downtown Los Angeles.


The four-hour hearing, the first and probably only one to be held in Los Angeles over the proposed Comcast purchase of NBCU, was convened at the California Science Center, at the behest of U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who represents the area.


Its purpose: to explore the issue of ethnic and cultural diversity in the broadcast and cable media -- and more specifically, how one of the biggest mergers in media history will improve or worsen that situation.


Earlier Monday morning, Comcast officially announced plans to add two independently owned channels to its cable systems in each of the next three years. Half of those channels, the company stated, would have substantial minority ownership.


The panel of committee members and witnesses called upon Monday to discuss the diversity records of Comcast and NBC Universal were clearly not impressed.


“It’s crumbs, and they know it,” said Stanley Washington, chairman-CEO of the National Coalition of African American Owned Media, one of more than a dozen witnesses called on to speak.


Garnering thunderous applause from the packed room, Washington clearly was playing to the home crowd of African American, Latino and Asian media leaders, who were seizing the moment to have their voices heard.


The witness list included several pro-merger voices, such as Paula Madison, executive VP of diversity for NBC Universal; Will Griffin, president and COO of the Comcast co-owned Hip Hop On Demand channel; and Alfred Liggins, president and CEO of Comcast business partner Radio One.

Read more at TheWrap.

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