In the News: Comcast and NBC Make History

Comcast inks a $28 billion deal with NBC Universal. What does it mean for African Americans?

The Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice approved Comcast’s $28 billion purchase of NBC Universal yesterday morning. The acquisition combines the nation’s largest cable and Internet service provider with an entertainment heavyweight. After an over 12 month review process, the FCC voted in a 4-1 decision to approve the historic merger, under several conditions.

The merger would not have been approved if several conditions were not implemented allowing the government to monitor its competition. Most of the conditions for the merger apply for seven years. An example of this checks-and-balance act is Comcast, which now owns 51% of NBC, handing over its management stake in Hulu, the online joint venture NBC has with Walt Disney and News Corp. The compromise ensures Comcast will offer television programming to competing sites such as ABC and CBS.

With the restrictions, came promises. The leading cable outlet is agreeing to offer more children’s programming and local news.  In addition, for low-income households, they will offer Internet service for $9.99 and stand-alone broadband Internet subscriptions for $49.99. It’s also promising to ramp up diversity in content with its 16 owned and operated stations, including Telemundo and TVOne. Critics have voiced their concerns, expressing the acquisition gives too much power to a single company, possibly resulting in fewer independent media sources as well as inflation of prices and cable saturation of the Internet.

Chairman of TVOne, Alfred Liggins, is excited about the opportunities expected to come along with the union. “There’s going to be loads of opportunity for our community,” says Liggins. “TV One will have the opportunity to be a part of a bigger family of programming assets and I think our viewers will ultimately benefit from that.”

The merger kicks into affect, officially, on January 28th.

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