Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Comcast/NBCU Deal Needs Bridge Over Troubled Maxine Waters

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and 45 other members of Congress are requesting that the FCC hold public hearings on the proposed merger of Comcast and NBC Universal, and have also compiled six pages worth of questions it would like the two merging entities to answer.

“I have been concerned about media consolidation and a lack of programming and ownership diversity in media for years,” said Waters. “Comcast is the nation’s largest provider of cable and internet services, so the merger’s impact will affect virtually every American. My colleagues and I want the FCC to conduct a thorough review of the Comcast-NBC merger, including public hearings, and to have our questions answered in a timely and substantive manner.”

Many of those who joined in on a letter sent to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and copied to the other four commissioners are members of either the Congressional Black Caucus or the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

The numerous questions the legislators would like the companies to answer come under these general headings: diversity in ownership as it relates to programming; diversity in employment and executive leadership; diversity in advertising; cable rates (particularly, whether the beneficial economies the companies say they will derive from the merger will show up on subscribers’ cable bills); labor questions, focusing on Comcast’s “aggressive” policy to discourage unions; stifling rival programming distributors; program carriage; and tagged on at the end, an additional 16 miscellaneous questions.

“With a new Administration and new FCC leadership, I believe that this merger will get the scrutiny it deserves,” said Waters. “Comcast and NBC’s records on corporate and programming diversity have recently been critiqued by many consumer and media advocacy groups. We all have a collective responsibility to ensure that women and minorities have a place in the corporate office and on television, and that the American people are not given less services or charged more money by a result of this merger.”

Here is a copy of the letter:http://waters.house.gov/UploadedFiles/FCC_Letter_on_Hearings_and_Questions.pdf

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