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NBC, Comcast Sweeten Diversity Pot

 "Looking to get in front of a June 7 House Judiciary Committee field hearing their proposed joint venture, Comcast Corp. and NBC Universal announced a series of new and/or expanded diversity commitments Monday morning," John Eggertonreported Monday for Broadcasting & Cable.

" 'Today Comcast and NBCU are announcing commitments that represent an unprecedented level of dedication to diversity,' saidPaula Madison, executive VP, diversity, who is testifying at the hearing, which will be presided over by Chairman John Conyers(D-Mich.)" Madison is a board member of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.

"The commitments include:

"1) that Comcast will add at least three independent cable nets with 'substantial [minority] ownership interest' over the next three years;

"2) that they will establish four external advisory councils (together referred to as the Joint Council), one each for representatives of the African American, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander communities, and another for 'other diverse communities,' and

"3) that they will spend at least $7 million more on advertising in minority-owned media next year.

"The advisory councils will meet at least twice a year with Comcast execs, one of those meetings to include the chairman and CEO.

"In a public interest statement submitted to the FCC, Comcast had already pledged to add at least two new independent networks per year for the next three years, but now the pledge is that half of those will be minority-run or controlled channels.

"And there is much more. On the workforce diversity front, Comcast and NBCU have pledged to increase director-level representation of minorities, create minority focus groups to identify potential employees, create a boot-camp program for mid-level VP candidates with at least 80% of those diverse candidates, use search firms with a track record of identifying diverse candidates.

"NBC News will add three paid internships to the six it now gives to members of minority journalist organizations, and will commit to increase the diversity of executives in TV and film development, production and marketing.

"The companies also pledged to increase their spending with minority-controlled suppliers with a nationwide goal of having a percentage of those suppliers equal to the percentage of minority-owned businesses in the communities the companies serve.

"The Peacock will also put its money where its beak is. Comcast has relationships with a number of minority-owned financial institutions. NBCU will be a depositor 'where practicable.'

". . . On the programming front, Comcast said it is committed to improving its track record in bringing diverse programming to its subs [subscribers], not that it thinks its current track record is wanting. It has already launched a Black cinema On Demand VOD channel, plans this fall to launch an Asian version, and said Monday that within a year of the deal's closing will launch a Hispanic version.

"NBCU said it will double (to four) the number of networking events for diverse directors and writers with senior NBCU execs. In addition to continuing to fund diversity writer positions for the next three years on each of the scripted series on the NBC network and for its late-night programs, it will expand that program to a position on each scripted series on a NBCU cable net.

"The companies will also increase their contributions to diverse communities, pledging to up their philanthropy to minority-led or supporting institutions by 10% per year for the next three years.

"NBC's announcement came only hours before the panelists, including representatives from both companies, were slated to testify in the hearing, which was expected to focus on diversity issues."

In April, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists opposed the proposed merger, saying that "this massive media consolidation will lead to fewer journalism jobs, less coverage of the Latino community, less diversity of voices, and excessive control for one company over the country’s media."

 

The Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education | 663 Thirteenth St., Suite 200, Oakland, CA 94612 | (510) 891-9202 



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