Comcast's Cohen warns of 'parochial business interests' behind diversity demand

Comcast executive VP David. L. Cohen stridently defended his cable company's diversity record, advising lawmakers of the numerous Latino-focused independent channels Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) has launched recently, while cautioning them not to be used by what he termed as "parochial business interests."

David Cohen, Comcast

Cohen (Source: Comcast)

"Through the transaction with Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), we are committed to bringing high-quality Hispanic content to millions of additional Americans," wrote Cohen, in a letter obtained by Variety. "My only caveat is that the importance of independent and Hispanic programming, which we are excelling at delivering, should not be confused by parochial business interests seeking more money and distribution for themselves."

Cohen's response came after Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts, along with TWC chief executive Rob Marcus, received a letter from Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.) and 52 other House lawmakers, asking Comcast to commit to adding more Latino-focused channels, amid a proposed purchase of TWC that could result in a combined company serving up to 90 percent of U.S. Latino households.

"Unfortunately, independent Latino program providers operate on an uneven playing field that threatens to limit the Latino community's access to their important perspectives," the letter states. "For years, the nation's largest mainstream program providers have continued to attract available channel capacity and fees from cable and satellite providers while independent program providers struggle to gain access to channels, let alone fees, for their program offerings."

As part of its 2011 acquisition of NBCUniversal, Comcast committed to adding 10 independent channels by 2019. And in its recent diversity report, the company touted its increased availability of on-demand and online content aimed at the Hispanic market.

Noted Being Latino Magazine: "While Cardenas' worries ring true, Comcast has gone out of their way to try and ensure Latino programming boomed after the NBCUniversal merger of 2011. And, since the end of 2010 they have made great strides to add online and on-demand content for Latinos, and more independent Latino networks to their line up, such as El Rey and Baby First Americas; both networks which, incidentally, are owned and managed by Latinos. So maybe Cardenas might not have much to worry about for the Latino viewing community."

For more:
- read this Variety story
- read this Being Latino story

Related links:
Univision CEO says Comcast-TWC meger would hurt Hispanic TV viewers
TWC's Marcus: Busy FCC may be delayed in finishing Comcast purchase approval
FCC starts 180-day clock on Comcast-TWC merger review