African American group opposes NBCU merger

Says Comcast doesn't support black ownership enough

The National Coalition of African American Owned Media filed Thursday its official opposition to the Comcast-NBC Universal merger, pointing out, in its words, the "non-existent carriage of 100% African American owned channels widely distributed on its cable platform to approximately 24 million homes."

NCAAOM president-CEO Stanley Washington said in the petition to the Federal Communications Commission that the time has come for Comcast to know that "African Americans will no longer live on the Comcast plantation. Comcast must immediately do business with African American-owned media in a significant way. Until they do so, we're continuing to boycott and actively campaign to have African American families and our supporters disconnect Comcast services."

In the lengthy petition to "deny" the proposed merger, Washington continued: "Our community represents up to 40% of Comcast's subscriber base, which means that we are paying them at least $15 billion a year. By not supporting African American ownership in a significant way, Comcast denies the African American community the same opportunity they afford others. We continue to advocate strongly for 100% African American channel ownership because Comcast has a history of requiring equity for distribution from independent channel owners."

The statement went on to point out that the 2009 compensation of Comcast chairman Brian Roberts and COO Steve Burke was $35 million each, noting that "these two man paid themselves significantly more than what Comcast paid to wholly owned African American media collectively." The statement also pointed out that Philadelphia itself -- the home base of Comcast -- is 43% black but that none of the channels Comcast carries is owned by African Americans.

The group has retained former FCC chairman Kevin Martin as an attorney in its efforts to block the planned merger.

Comcast has agree to pay some $30 billion to acquire the majority stake in GE-owned NBC Uni, a deal which would make the cable giant and Hollywood studio/network the biggest players to join together since AOL and Time Warner amalgamated 10 years ago. The deal is still under review by regulatory agencies and is not expected to close until toward the end of the year.

Without mincing words, the NCAAOM petition concludes: "The overall lack of African American ownership is a national disgrace and continues one of our nation's most important unfinished agendas."
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