NBCUniversal Criticized for Not Being Diverse Enough After Comcast Deal


NBC's fall season schedule features fewer minorities in major roles, while KNBC Channel 4 in L.A. has been called out over the lack of Latino anchors.

NEW YORK - Comcast in late January acquired a 51 percent stake in NBCUniversal after the FCC approved the deal under a slew of conditions, including ones related to diversity issues.

But some of NBCUniversal's businesses have come under fire, with critics arguing that diversity has so far only been a promise, the LA Times reported.

The NBC network's fall season schedule features fewer minorities in major roles, the paper said. And LA TV station KNBC Channel 4 has been criticized by two Latino journalist groups claiming that the newsroom is discriminating against Latino anchors.

NBCUniversal executives have emphasized their commitment to diversity though.

Craig Robinson, KNBC's president and general manager, who became NBCUniversal chief of diversity just a few weeks ago after Paula Madison had announced her departure a few months ago, said he has long been aggressive in hiring minorities, particularly Hispanics, in the newsroom, according to the Times. And NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt recently argued that the NBC network was "embedded in diversity" and said: "Hopefully, you see these [diversity] statistics going in our favor as time goes on."

Critics seem to take a wait-and-see approach for now, according to the Times.

Last season, when the NBCUniversal-Comcast deal was pending, NBC had Undercovers, The Event and other primetime shows with minorities in major roles, but the Times highlighted that they were cancelled due to low ratings.

However, among NBC's six new fall series, only one, The Playboy Club, has a minority in a leading role in Cuban-American Eddie Cibrian, according to the paper. Producers are also currently beefing up - for what appear to be creative reasons - Maya Rudolph's role in Up All Night and adding Nick Cannon to the show, it said.

As far as KNBC goes, leaders of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and CCNMA: Latino Journalists of California in recent letters expressed concern about the removal of anchor Ana Garcia from the 6pm news and the lack of Hispanic anchors on prime newscasts. They said KNBC seemed in conflict with a memorandum of understanding that Comcast and NBCUniversal signed to promise to "recruit and retain more Latinos so that their workforces more accurately reflect the communities they serve."

Michele Salcedo, president of the NAHJ, and Julio Moran, executive director of CCNMA, spoke with Robinson last week and came away more optimistic though, according to the Times.

"Craig promised that the talent lineup would look very differently six months from now," Salcedo said. "I stressed the importance of perception," said Moran. "I'm willing to give him six months."