Jackson PUSHES Comcast For 10% Minority Basic Set-Aside

Also calls for 25% of ad budgets, "vendor dollars" to go to minority-owned firms
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The
Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition wants Comcast to set aside 10% of
its basic tier for networks "owned and controlled by people of color"
and for both Comcast and NBC Universal to spend 25% of their ad and marketing
budgets and the same percentage of "vendor dollars" on minority-owned
firms.

"We
want to make sure that independently owned and controlled minority cable
networks don't find it harder to gain carriage if this deal happens, said
Jackson in written testimony for the July 8 House Communications Subcommittee
field hearing in Chicago on the deal. Jackson did not deliver the testimony at
the hearing, according to an observer on site. "

"Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the civil rights community held
out great hope that the emerging cable industry would be reflective of
communities of color in programming, ownership and staffing," he said.
"Our community hoped to not only own cable networks but cable franchises
as well. But this simply hasn't happened."

Those
are just a couple of a number of conditions he wants the FCC to impose on
any approval of the Comcast/NBCU joint venture. Others include those on job
training, hiring and promotion, recruitment and mentoring.

Jackson
said the deal was perhaps the last, best opportunity to address "critical
issues" in global communications, which he called the twin national
challenges of "creating jobs and helping to connect every American,
especially people of color, to vitally needed news, information and broadband
internet services."

Comcast
has announced a number of diversity initiatives, including pledges on minority
ad and vendor spending--though not at the 25% level Jackson and Rainbow are
seeking--as well as on recruitment and staffing, philanthropy and more. It
has recently expanded those commitments, including adding 10 independent
networks to its digital lineup over the next eight years, at least four of
them African American-controlled.

Jackson
also called on the companies to publish "the percentage of people of color
employed by NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC and set aggressive benchmarks to ensure
they reach parity in staffing."

According
to a source at the Chicago hearing, it took about two hours Thursday morning
and featured Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) echoing her concerns about the deal
expressed at the House Judiciary Committee hearing in Los Angeles June 7,
and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) criticizing former FCC's for a lack of attention
to diversity.

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