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Petition Demands FCC Investigate Comcast’s Failure to Add African American-Owned & Operated Networks

Petition Demands FCC Investigate Comcast's Failure to Add African American-Owned & Operated Networks

Entertainment Studios, Inc. and The National Association of African American-Owned Media (NAAAOM) on Thursday, March 24, 2016, filed an historic petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), demanding enforcement of Comcast’s failure to honor its commitment to add African American-owned cable television networks. This commitment from Comcast was outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) deriving from the Comcast/NBCUniversal merger formally approved by the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice in January, 2011.

The Entertainment Studios/NAAAOM petition demands the FCC immediately undertake a detailed, critical investigation into Comcast’s claims of compliance and, on the basis of its findings, impose on Comcast penalties commensurate with the seriousness of its misconduct. Petition also insists that FCC Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn, in particular, should be leading the charge in this effort, because it was she who sternly warned in her concurrence to grant the Comcast/NBCUniversal merger, that she would be “watching closely with my large megaphone in my hand” to ensure Comcast’s compliance. To date, the petition states, Comcast has failed to comply with those conditions, and that the FCC has utterly failed either to investigate Comcast’s non-compliance with, or to enforce, those materially-significant conditions. 

Accordingly, Entertainment Studios and NAAAOM demand that the FCC immediately take all appropriate measures, including, but not limited to:

a)  Investigate the extent to which Comcast has failed to comply with materially significant conditions imposed upon it by the FCC.

b)  Require Comcast to take immediate corrective measures, subject to rigorous, continuous, and ongoing FCC oversight to ensure future compliance with those conditions.

c)  Impose such sanctions as may be warranted, including both monetary forfeitures and/or revocation and/or non-renewal of licenses, for Comcast’s flagrant violations of those conditions to date.

“The time has come for the FCC and President Obama to correct this empty MOU charade, investigate the ownership and management structures of networks launched under the MOU, and advance economic inclusion for 100% African American-owned media,” said Byron Allen, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Entertainment Studios. “100% African American-owned media companies must be allowed to participate in a significant way by being included in the $70 billion spent annually on programming. I am committed to the end of time to stop these corporate racist atrocities.”

“Comcast’s refusal to follow through on its own promises is a tragedy for 100% African American-owned independent media companies,” said Mark DeVitre, President of NAAAOM. “Comcast, President Obama, and the FCC continue to fail the African American community. African American-owned media have been forced to the edge of extinction, and Comcast’s broken promises to the FCC and to America demonstrate their utter and complete lack of commitment to true economic inclusion for African Americans.”

“100% African American-owned media companies, including my client, have been egregiously harmed by Comcast’s sham MOU and the FCC’s complicity in allowing Comcast to flout the conditions laid out in that MOU,” said Harry F. Cole, Partner at Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, and lead counsel for the petitioners. “We look forward to obtaining justice.”

The petition, filed with the FCC on March 24, 2016 can be accessed at: http://www.naaaom.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Petition-Comcast.pdf.

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