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 pledges to add eight black, Hispanic independent networks
David Goetzl MediaPost.com (July 8, 2010) Despite one senator's efforts, Comcast continues to
have no plans to divest its stake in Hulu if a joint venture with NBC
Universal is completed. But looking to appeal to legislators, Comcast
pledged to add eight independent TV networks -- four each controlled by
African-American and Hispanic interests -- to its cable system, while
creating a $20 million fund to assist minority entrepreneurs.
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) has asked that the joint venture sell its stake
in Hulu within a year of the transaction closing, arguing that the
merged company could stifle competition in the online video space.
Yet in a letter to Rep. Bobby Rush (D. Ill.) released Thursday, Comcast
said that except for a Spanish-language local station in Los Angeles,
"no additional divestiture of media assets is contemplated in connection
with the NBCU transaction."
Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen, who wrote the letter,
noted that in the case of future divestitures, including cable systems
not part of NBCU, the company will "use commercially reasonable efforts
to provide first priority to minority ownership groups." Comcast has
said it will try to sell NBCU's independent KWHY in L.A. to a
Rush, a member of a House subcommittee on communications, technology and
the Internet, participated in a hearing on the proposed NBCU joint
venture in Chicago on Thursday. It was the sixth congressional hearing
on the would-be transaction since its late-2009 proposal. Comcast would
have the controlling stake.
In a summary of diversity commitments unveiled Thursday, Cohen further
said that two networks majority controlled by African-American interests
will be added to Comcast's digital tier in the first two years
post-transaction. Overall, Comcast will add 10 independent networks in
the first eight years.
The Hispanic-network pledge was not mentioned in Cohen's letter. But the
executive said that two networks majority-controlled by African-American
interests will be added to Comcast's digital tier in the first two years
Networks such as TV One or BET J could also receive a distribution bump
soon after the venture debuts. Comcast pledged to increase carriage on
its systems of networks controlled by, and targeting, African-Americans
within six months.
Comcast also promised to establish a new venture-capital fund with a
minimum of $20 million to seed ventures by minority entrepreneurs in the
new-media arena. Details about the fund to be managed by Comcast
Interactive Capital will be released in the fall. The fund, which
currently manages $500 million-plus in interests, has stakes in
companies such as ad-targeting Visible World and TidalTV.
In prepared testimony, NBCU's executive vice president of diversity,
Paula Madison, indicated that Comcast is in "support" of its cable
system paying retrans-consent dollars to local stations.
"As everyone recognizes, broadcast stations have struggled to survive on
advertising revenue alone," Madison said. "These retransmission-consent
negotiations have the potential to provide broadcast stations with a
second stream of revenue to reinvigorate that business."
Madison also said that over the last year, the NBC network has increased
the number of minority actors (31% to 33%), as well as writers/producers
(12% to 14%) and directors (9% to 11%). At the USA network, minority
actors rose from 19% to 23% and writers/producers from 14% to 18%. At
Syfy, writers/producers went from 4% to 10%, she said.
Before the hearing, the newly formed Coalition for Competition in Media,
which includes WealthTV, Common Cause, Writers Guild of America arms and
National Coalition of African American Owned Media, expressed its
opposition to the proposed joint venture.