Comcast announced yesterday that it will commit $20 million in new funds for minority entrepreneurs as part of its pledge to promote diversity after the close of its proposed joint venture with NBC Universal. The new venture fund will be established as part of Comcast Interactive Capital, the company’s venture arm, and would back minority entrepreneurs developing new media content and technology.
The cable company is trying to ease concerns about a lack of diversity in its programming and its workforce after the close of its proposed joint venture with NBCU. As a result, Comcast laid out a number of proposals designed to promote minority programming and employment opportunities as part of the joint venture.
In addition to the venture fund, Comcast promised to add 10 new independently owned and operated networks to its cable service in the first eight years after the deal closed, up from a previous commitment of six new channels in its original public-interest statement. Of those 10 new networks, Comcast said that at least four would be majority-owned by African Americans, and two of those stations would come online in the first two years after the joint venture was completed.
The announcement comes a week after Comcast announced a deal with Hispanic groups in which it promised to add a Latino member to its board of directors in the first two years after a deal is completed. It also said it would add four independent networks with substantial Latino ownership to its cable lineup.
The commitments came during a hearing called by the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet on Comcast’s proposed joint venture that was focused specifically on how the transaction would affect minorities, in particular African Americans. It was the latest in a series of six Congressional Hearings that Comcast and NBCU have faced since announcing the deal. Next week, Comcast and NBCU are participating in a two-panel forum to discuss the effect the joint venture will have on online video distribution and multichannel programming.
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