Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Comcast seeking minority support

While pressure builds on federal regulators to render a decision on Comcast and NBC Universal's proposed joint venture, the two companies have been lining up support from minority groups to address one of the more sensitive issues about the transaction: diversity.

On Friday, Comcast and NBC U announced an agreement with African-American orgs the NAACP, the National Urban League and the National Action Network that's designed to boost hiring and representation, including a pledge to add four cable networks in which African-Americans have a majority or substantial ownership interest. At least two of the channels will be added in the first two years following the close of the transaction, with the remaining two over the next eight years. Overall, Comcast has pledged to add 10 independently owned channels, eight of which will be controlled or operated by minorities.

Those steps, however, are unlikely to appease longtime critics of the transaction, who have not only called such steps insufficient but also have warned the $30 billion deal would have an overall detrimental impact on the ability of independent channels to flourish. Comcast pledged such commitments last summer in advance of House and FCC public hearings on the deal.

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