Comcast/NBCU merger threatening programmer diversity, Public Knowledge and Common Cause say

Cable industry consolidation, specifically Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) 2011 purchase of NBCUniversal, have had a detrimental impact on minority programming, progressive groups Public Knowledge and Common Cause said in a letter to the FCC.

Commenting on the agency's 2016 Hispanic Television Study, the groups referenced Comcast's court battle with Liberman Broadcasting — the MSO has been accused in a lawsuit of favoring its own Telemundo and NBC Universo channels over Liberman's Spanish language networks in terms of offering distribution.

"While commenters are not in a position to pass judgment on the merits of Liberman's complaint, if its allegations that Comcast is denying Liberman fair distribution and compensation, in order to benefit Comcast's own Telemundo and NBC Universo networks are true, it would demonstrate yet another way in which media consolidation and vertical integration in particular threaten diversity and the public interest," the groups said. 

Public Knowledge and Common Cause also called for diversity conditions tied to Charter Communications' (NASDAQ: CHTR) takeovers of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks to be enforced.

"This use of behavioral conditions to overcome structural issues in a merger underscores the need for the Commission to ensure that these conditions are strictly enforced — the Charter conditions, the Comcast/NBCU conditions, and the conditions attached to any other merger," the groups added. This includes, but is not limited to, giving a careful hearing to complaints by the public, programmers, consumer groups, or any other affected party that the merged entity has failed to comply with its commitments, or has tried to circumvent them."

For more:
- read this Public Knowledge letter to the FCC

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