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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Despite void in black ownership, many black leaders defend Comcast
merger plans By Pharoh Martin
NNPA News Service (June 4, 2010) Big business mergers have rarely garnered the support
of the black community and its leaders but, despite some protests, some
leading black organizations have come out in support of Comcast's $30
billion deal to acquire NBC-Universal.
The merger, currently under review by the Federal Communications
Commission, has had a significant number of black organizations and
interest groups publicly supporting it despite protests from others,
according to letters filed in the FCC case docket.
"Our membership is often skeptical of horizontal mergers,” wrote the
Rev. Al Sharpton, president and founder of the National Action Network.
“However, given Comcast's track record on diversity matters, the fact
that this joint venture is nearly wholly vertical, and the prospective
benefits for consumers generated by the joint venture, I support this
joint venture and hope that the FCC will approve it without delay.
"With ownership as a major driver of the black economy, at least one
group, the National Coalition of African American Owned Media, headed by
Stanley Washington – as reported last week by the NNPA News Service -
has launched a crusade against Comcast and their proposed merger with
NBC/Universal, largely because of Comcast’s lack of African American
owned channels on its national platform.
But, for many black civil rights advocates and business leaders, Comcast
has earned a long earned-reputation of staunchly promoting diversity
through their various employment and business practices and being a
committed community partner in the various markets they serve.
Sharpton wrote that the Philadelphia-based cable provider has been an
industry leader on diversity in appointing African Americans to high
leadership positions and commitment to black-focused programming
starting with the early carriage of the once African American-owned
Black Entertainment Television (BET) in the 1980s to its joint venture
with black media company Radio One to launch BET rival TV One.
"Given the potential benefits of the deal and Comcast's strong record of
commitment to diversity, I am thus favorably inclined toward its
approval,” Sharpton wrote. “I believe that this venture can offer useful
benefits for African American media and Internet entrepreneurs as well
as the general public."Comcast
and Sharpton have worked together on a variety of educational and
“When we started NAN's Madison Ave. Initiative they were one of the
first companies to come to the table with us," Sharpton said in a
The merger has also garnered the support of the National Black Chamber
of Commerce, the country's largest federation of black-owned businesses.
"We have a long history with Comcast," said National Black Chamber of
Commerce president and founder Harry Alford in an interview with NNPA.
"And they have been very good to our members who do cable installation,
wire work, and that kind of stuff. Comcast has been hiring those local
businesses that do that kind of work. I've never heard of Comcast doing
something that would not include African Americans.
"In his letter to the FCC, Alford lauded Comcast's record in promoting
diversity and its support for black charities and community groups. He
wrote that Comcast’s record “has provided ample evidence of this
company's good works and the positive impact it will have on diversity
and equality at NBC Universal.
”Nearly a quarter of Comcast's workforce is African American, he wrote.
The company has been aggressive in identifying and recruiting minority
talent by partnering with numerous black professional and civil rights
organizations such as the NAACP, the National Black MBA Association and
the National Society of Black Engineers.
Alford pointed out that Comcast drove $84 million dollars of business to
African American vendors in 2009 and that the cable giant was listed on
Diversity Business' "America's Top 50 Corporations for Multicultural
Business Opportunities" list for five consecutive years for their record
of seeking out black-owned suppliers.
The FCC case docket also includes letters of support from local chapters
of various black national organizations.
The National Urban League's local chapters of Washington, DC, Memphis,
Tacoma, WA, Hartford, CT and Broward County, FL all praised Comcast and
NBC local affiliates' continuous support as community partners.
"We would be remiss if we did not mention that Comcast is also a
long-time partner of the [the National Urban League],” wrote Maudine
Cooper, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Washington
Urban League. “Comcast serves on the League's Board of Directors and the
company has provided generous resources in support of our programs in
education, employment and training, housing and community development
and our efforts that led to our securing a new headquarters and program
"Some support letters implied that Comcast’s record of involvement in
the black community balances out any complaints.
“The benefits that good corporate citizenship brings to the community
are invaluable, and I am confident that Comcast will continue to follow
its own example in its new venture with NBC,” wrote the Rev. Horace
Sheffield, executive director of the Detroit Association of Black
The NAACP's Memphis branch, the Seattle chapter of the A. Philip
Randolph Institute, the International Detroit Black Expo, and the 100
Black Men of Greater Washington, D.C. are all black organizations that
have also written in their support for the Comcast deal.Still,
the deal is not without its detractors.
In her letter to the FCC, US Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) wrote, "I have
been tracking the Comcast-NBC merger for several months, and I am very
concerned about the implications this merger has on diversity, localism,
and competition in today's media market.”The
congresswoman points out that all of the nation's major broadcast
networks and 90 percent of the top 50 cable networks are owned by only
five companies. The same five media corporations also produce
three-quarters of all prime-time programming and control 70 percent of
the prime time television market. Therefore, Waters is worried about
further media consolidation.
At least seven members of Congress have filed letters opposing the deal.
The Congress members called the direction of the American media "one of
the most, if not the most, critical issues we face today."
They pointed to a severe decline in the number of minority-owned
broadcast stations. In 2007, minorities owned just 3.2 percent of the
nation's televisions despite making up more than 34 percent of the U.S.
"If Comcast's acquisition of NBC Universal is allowed to proceed, the
company would control content production and content distribution at an
unprecedented level," the Congress members' opposition letter argued. “A
Comcast-NBC conglomerate would own the nation's largest cable system,
one of the nation's largest networks, 27 broadcast television stations,
14 national cable channels, seven production studios, and several of the
fast growing Internet properties.”
The Supreme Court, which holds a precedence of ruling against such media
near-monopolies, declared in 1945: “the widest possible dissemination of
information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the
welfare of the public.
"Although a quarter of Comcast's workforce is black, the record of
diversity at the cable provider's upper rungs is not as inclusive.
During a congressional hearing in March, Comcast Chief Executive Officer
Brian Roberts admitted to a judiciary panel that his company's board of
directors includes only one woman and one African American. In the same
hearing, NBC's chief executive Jeff Zucker admitted to the panel members
that his network has zero black programming.
Other ethnic organizations, such as the Latino Chamber of Commerce of
Greater Los Angeles and pan-Asian group Mabuhay Alliance, charge that
Comcast has horrible record of outreach to their respective ethnic
groups' communities and these communities will not benefit from the
deal. Still, numerous other notable Latino groups have filed letters in
Alford holds that the criticism against Comcast is unfounded and the
media company's record for diversity and to the black community speaks
He said, "If anyone wants to go after some bad boys go after Google,
which has a deplorable hiring record of African-Americans."