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NCAAOM Says Comcast’s Policy of Zero Percent African American Owned Channels Must Change
Group says FCC should require Comcast-NBCU to allocate 10 percent of channel capacity to African American Owned Media
The National Coalition of African American Owned Media (NCAAOM) today praised the FCC’s decision to extend the comment period for the controversial proposed merger between Comcast and NBC Universal (NBCU).
"It’s now clear the FCC recognizes the tremendous impact this merger will have on American society," says Stanley E. Washington, NCAAOM President & CEO. "For decades Comcast has shut the door to African American ownership of channels. The stakes are extremely high and we are going to hold everyone accountable, especially the pension funds that have investments in Comcast. As far as we are concerned, those pension funds are supporting apartheid right here in America."
Although Comcast has 250+ channels on its platform distributed to approximately 25 million homes, there are no channels which are 100% African American Owned. In a letter to Comcast chair Brian Roberts, Willis Edwards, a senior official of the NAACP Beverly Hills/Hollywood branch and a member of the organization’s national board of directors, wrote, "After decades of ignoring this problem, the perpetual lack of support behind African American Owned Media can only be described as discriminatory and Restraint of Trade.... We will not sit and watch as increased consolidation (of this existing super powered Cable TV megalopoly) perpetuates the exclusion of and discrimination against African American Owned Media."
Currently, African American consumers have more than $1.5 Trillion of spending power. According to Nielsen Media Research, African Americans watch 40 percent more television than other American demographics and are more likely to have more than one television in their homes.
NCAAOM wants a minimum of 25 channels set aside for African American ownership. After the proposed merger, Comcast-NBCU will control or have an attributable ownership interest in 44 cable channels, own 10 regional sports networks ("RSNs"), 2 broadcast networks, 26 owned and operated broadcast TV stations, 32 on-line video properties, as well as Universal Studios and Focus Features. In short, the NBCU merger would concentrate content ownership in the hands of an entity that already controls the means of access to cable television for millions of American homes.
"We strongly believe the FCC should require Comcast-NBCU to allocate 10 percent of its channel capacity, i.e., a minimum of 25 channels to African American Owned Media companies. A cable operator serving markets in which half of its customers are African American should absolutely ensure that at least 10 percent of its channel capacity is owned by members of the African American community," says Washington. He further adds, "We’re a diverse demographic, comprising conservatives, liberals, urban dwellers and suburbanites and representatives from every economic class. The sharing of diverse perspectives is good for America and contributes to our greatness. We deserve options, and we demand ownership. It’s really that simple."
NCAAOM recently filed formal opposition to the merger with the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and is preparing a formal complaint to the DOJ and FCC. The organization also retained attorney Kevin Martin, former FCC Chairman 2005-2009, to file the complaints and plans to work closely with the FCC, DOJ, members of the House (including Congressional Black Caucus), the Senate, the US Attorney’s Office, community based organizations, and on-line bloggers on this issue.
"This is not a hypothetical situation. We are prepared to bring forth ownership groups who can immediately launch African American Owned Channels on the Comcast platform. Our message to Comcast and NBCU is clear: We will oppose this merger and/or any other merger proposed by Comcast/NBCU until significant ownership opportunities are allocated to African American interest," Washington concludes.
The National Coalition of African American Owned Media (NCAAOM) www.NCAAOM.tv is working to ensure that African American Owned Media companies are given the same opportunities as their non-African American counterparts to own, produce compelling content, access distribution, and flourish in today’s integrated media landscape. The organization is focused on creating sustained equality through ownership as a means of rectifying the continued racial imbalance within the competitive media industry.
Source: National Coalition of African American Owned Media