Comcast-NBCU Merger Presents Opportunities for CCP - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

Don Jackson, CEO of Central City Productions, plans to launch a faith-based cable network for African Americans.

In an effort to sway FCC approval for a joint venture with NBC Universal, Comcast made a commitment on Friday to dedicate eight of 10 new proposed networks as majority ownership interest for minorities.

Don Jackson, founder and CEO of Central City Productions, a 40-year-old production company responsible for producing the Stellar Awards, says the merger could create an opportunity for his company on two fronts. First, Comcast’s promise to expand diversity in front of, and behind the camera, will assist CCP in getting more day time and prime time coverage on NBC stations for Our World with Black Enterprise and The Black Enterprise Business Report; two shows that Chicago-based CCP co-produces with Earl G. Graves Ltd.

Further Reading: FCC Hearing Broaches Media Ownership for Minorities

Next, Jackson plans to leverage Comcast’s commitment to create four new African American-owned networks and propose his idea to start the Black Family Television Network, a family, news and entertainment-oriented network with faith-based programming.

“The black church spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year to get their ministry programs on television. They are buying time, but they have no equity whatsoever other than the return they get from donations,” says Jackson. “Many of the other white churches have already started their networks.”

He plans to finance the BFTN by providing equity ownership to mega-churches. He could also benefit from a $20 million venture capital fund Comcast pledges to establish in order to expand opportunities for minority entrepreneurs.

Comcast’s promise doesn’t appease everyone. The $20 million is only a drop in the bucket since Comcast spends $8 billion a year licensing content for their cable systems of which less than $2 million or .025% is spent on black-owned networks, says Stanley E. Washington, president & CEO of the National Coalition of African American Owned Media. Washington considers the pledge “extremely insulting” considering that $15 billion of the $36 billion Comcast generates in revenues comes from African American subscribers.

NCAAOM will remain relentless until Comcast agrees to commit 10% ($800 million) of their annual programming budget to wholly-owned African American networks,” Washington said.

Comcast’s announcement came at the behest of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California),  who has been critical of NBC Universal, which is owned by General Electric and Comcast’s track records on diversity within their programming, management, ownership, and advertising activities. Waters has requested several public hearing to discuss the matter and assure that the merger does not limit entrepreneurial competition.

African Americans make up to 40% of Comcast’s subscriber base, but none of the 250 plus channels that are offered on the Comcast platform are 100% African American owned and widely distributed, according to opposition to the Comcast NBCU merger, which the NCAAOM filed with the FCC. TV One, which is 37% owned by Radio One is the only U.S. cable network with significant black ownership.

For more information:
The Coalition for Competition in Media
Black Broadcasting Network Launches on Verizon Fios

Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.