Maxine Waters Pressures FCC for ‘Diversity Commitments’ in Merger Reviews

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“while I was pleased with several of Comcast-NBC’s voluntary public interest commitments, more can be done to achieve our diversity objectives.”

For Variety reports: Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and 51 other lawmakers, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus, are pressing the FCC to ensure that upcoming mergers include  “enforceable commitments” to boost media ownership, programming, advertising and other opportunities for women and minorities.

“In similar ‘mega-merger’ transactions in recent years, companies have attempted to demonstrate their ‘good corporate citizenship’ by identifying past philanthropic donations they have made to various charitable organizations and promising additional such donations.”

The letter cited the proposed mergers of Time Warner Cable and Comcast, and of AT&T and DirecTV, as well as “the imminent announcement” of Sprint’s merger with T-Mobile. The FCC’s merger reviews examine whether the transactions are in the public interest.

“In similar ‘mega-merger’ transactions in recent years, companies have attempted to demonstrate their good corporate citizenship by identifying past philanthropic donations they have made to various charitable organizations and promising additional such donations,” the letter states. “While we commend these companies for making such donations as good corporate stewards, such contributions should not supplant substantive plans to contract with minority and women-owned firms, recruit and retain qualified woman and minority senior level executives, and appoint diverse candidates to boards of directors.”

The letter cited figures showing that minorities owned just 2.2% of TV stations in 2012, despite comprising more than 39% of the population.

Waters, whose office on Friday released a copy of the letter, addressed to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, took aim at NBC’s diversity record when the Comcast-NBC Universal transaction was under review….(read more)

Variety



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