Comcast Picks Up 4 Minority-Owned Cable Channels

fromSCPR

The country's largest cable company Comcast announced it's going to carry four new channels geared toward African American and Latino audiences. Owners include Magic Johnson, Sean "Diddy" Combs and movie director Robert Rodriguez. Comcast promised Congress nearly two years ago that it would carry more minority-owned and operated networks in its bid to acquire NBC-Universal.

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Magic Johnson and Sean "Diddy" Combs have fame in common and soon they will both have something else in common. They'll cable networks of their very own. Comcast has just announced it will carry four new minority-owned cable channels.

From member station KPCC Shereen Meraji reports.

SHEREEN MERAJI, BYLINE: Let's travel back in time...

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MERAJI: ...before Comcast acquired NBC and became a $30 billion media-goliath. Congresswoman Maxine Waters stood in for David and hit NBC's Jeff Zucker with hard questions about diversity.

REPRESENTATIVE MAXINE WATERS DEMOCRAT, CALIFORNIA: You have no more black programming. Is that correct?

JEFF ZUCKER: Are you talking about NBC right now?

CALIFORNIA: Yeah, on NBC? Um...

MERAJI: It took a while for Zucker to spit it out, but the answer was...

ZUCKER: Uh...

MERAJI: No black programming. So, to make Congress happy, Comcast promised to carry more minority-owned channels, post merger.

Comcast's head of content acquisition, David Jensen, says that's the reason for this week's announcement.

DAVID JENSEN: The African-American community and the U.S. Latino community are underserved in the pay-TV world and it's high time that that came to an end.

MERAJI: Comcast reviewed 100 proposals for minority-owned networks and four made the cut, including three backed by star power.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "MACHETE")

ANNOUNCER: They call him Machete.

MERAJI: Director, Robert Rodriguez of "Machete" and "Spy Kids" fame will have a channel geared toward Latino men. Magic Johnson's Aspire network will feature positive TV for the African-American community.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'M COMING HOME")

SEAN COMBS: Thank you Lord. (Singing) I'm coming' home...

MERAJI: And music producer, rapper and actor, Sean "Puff Daddy" turned "P. Diddy" now just "Diddy" Combs, has his channel called Revolt. That'll show music videos. But you don't want to start dancing, just yet. These networks will start rolling out this summer.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'M COMING HOME")

COMBS: (Singing) I'm coming home. Coming home.

MERAJI: For NPR News, I'm Shereen Marisol Meraji.

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