Around 200 protesters took a bus from Detroit to Comcast’s Philadelphia headquarters last week to give the MSO an earful about dropping African-American-targeted ministry channel The Word Network in select markets.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the protesters were armed with placards reading “Comcast is robbing us” and “We want Word Network,” while one protester announced from a bullhorn the well-worn slogan, “No justice, no peace.”
As the paper noted, The Word Network's white owner, Kevin Adell, has successfully deployed such protests before en route to infiltrating Word into an impressive 97 million pay-TV homes. Adell has reportedly retained the same lawyer Netflix used when it opposed Comcast’s proposed takeover of Time Warner Cable in 2014-15.
For its part, Comcast plans to drop the network in 7 million U.S. homes and replace it with a newer African-American religious channel, The Impact Network, that is owned by an African-American Detroit minister and better meets its FCC diversity mandates. Word will be taken off Comcast’s program guide in more than 400 towns and cities on Jan. 12.
Adell, who wasn’t in Philadelphia for the protest, told The Inquirer over the phone, “I’m not going to take this lying down. The Word is the top dog in the African-American community. I’m already big.”
As for Comcast, MSO rep John Demming said its statement hasn’t changed since FierceCable originally reported on the Word downgrade on Dec. 1.
“We continuously evaluate the content we deliver to our customers,” the cable company said. “As part of this ongoing process, we determined that The Impact Network provides a broader array of programming than The Word Network, which led us to our decision to increase Impact’s distribution. We are also continuing to carry The Word Network to millions of our customers in the Midwest and South based on its appeal in those regions.”