Annual Edition 'Buying Power of
Black America' report breaks down billions in expenditures Black
consumers are responding to tighter economic condition by focusing more of
their spending on items and services that improve their homes and
lifestyle. That's one of the trends revealed in the 15th annual report,
"The Buying Power of Black America," published by Target Market News. The
report analyzes spending for black households in 2008 and finds that
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Comcast/NBCU commit to adding independent networks with minority backers By John Eggerton
Multichannel News (June 7, 2010) Looking to get ahead of a House Judiciary Committee
field hearing Monday on the Comcast/NBCU proposed joint venture, the
companies Monday morning announced a series of new and/or expanded
diversity commitments. "Today Comcast and NBCU are announcing
commitments that represent an unprecedented level of dedication to
diversity," said Paula Madison, executive vice president, diversity,
who is testifying at the hearing, which will be presided over by
Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.)
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 it will establish four external
advisory councils (together referred to as the Joint Council),
representatives for each 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 -nterest statement submitted to the Federal Communications
Commission, Comcast had already pledged to add at least two new
independent networks annually for the next three years, but now the
pledge is that half of those will be minority-run or controlled
On the workforce diversity front, Comcast/NBCU has pledged to increase
director-level representation of minorities' create minority focus
groups to identify potential employees, create a boot-camp program for
mid-level vice presidential candidates with at least 80% of those
diverse candidates, use search firms with a track record of identifying
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.
NBC U will be a depositor "where practicable.
As NBC has said before, it will also seek out a minority owner for KWHY-TV,
a Spanish-language independent, as it must either spin off or seek a
wavier for--NBC U already owns two stations there.
On the programming front, Comcast said it is committed to improving its
track record in bringing diverse programming to its subs, not that it
thinks its current track record is wanting. It has already launched a
Black cinema On Demand VOD channel, and plans to launch an Asian version
this fall. It said Monday that within a year of the deal's closing will
launch a Hispanic version.
NBC U said it will double to four the number of networking events for
diverse directors and writers with its senior 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 years 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.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a member of the committee, has expressed
concerns about the companies' record on diversity issues. Last week,
national groups of Black and Hispanic state legislators praised
Comcast's record in comments at the FCC, which has just re-started its
informal 180-day shot clock on the deal.
The companies also got an assist from Magic Johnson, who sent a letter
to Conyers (D-Mich.) (Johnson is a former Michigan State star) praising
NBCU's focus on diversity and the deal. Conyers has praised Comcast's
initial public-interest commitments for the combined venture, though he
has also suggested he would like to see suggesting a commitment to
independent programming, access to sports programming, and "ensuring
consumers still have access to their favorite shows online for minimal
or no cost." In the committee's first hearing on the deal back in
February, a marathon affair lasting some five hours, NBCU topper Zeff
Zucker and Comcast chairman Brian Roberts defended their records on
diversity, and in some cases pledged to do better; reiterated their
commitment to keeping NBC free and over the air; and making their
programming available to competitive distributors.
That hearing alternated between grillings about jobs, access to online
content, and competitive pressures to favor their own content and the
occasional rambling question, which helped push the morning hearing into
mid-afternoon. Conyers set the tone at the hearing with opening remarks
full of concern about consolidation in general. He said he had been
alarmed by the consolidation in the industry and that he thought the
Justice Department's Antitrust Division had not been effective.