As Comcast moves forward with its merger with NBC Universal, the media giant has pledged $20 million towards building minority owned digital businesses.
In a letter last July to Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Comcast said it would, at the helm of the merged company, provide training, internships and mentoring to minority students as well as distribution and funding to business owners. The company is now in the verge of making good on that promise, company officials said recently.
Comcast will also provide free video and high-speed internet service to schools and libraries in underserved and low-income areas, as well as low-cost internet service to 2.5 million low-income households.
“Comcast is committed to providing opportunities for diverse businesses to expand and grow,” David Jensen, vice president of Content Acquisition for Comcast, said in a statement. “We look forward to considering a number of fresh and viable programming proposals from Hispanic and African American programmers to create new channels that will complement the robust lineup of programming choices we already offer our customers.”
Leaders of several civil rights organizations praised Comcast’s initiatives, saying they will provide more diversity on and off the air.
“This agreement represents a positive step in the right direction for the principle of diversity, inclusion and economic opportunity,” Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, said in a statement. “We applaud Comcast and NBC Universal for its willingness to enter into written commitments toward the goal of building a first-class communications concern. We thank them for their insight and commitment.”
Comcast plans on starting eight new networks that will be independently owned by Hispanic or African Americans. Two African-American owned networks are expected to launch by Jan. 28, 2013.