Comcast's investment in diversity
Just a week after Comcast announced its merger with Time Warner Cable, the New York Times published a critical article on the company's investment in diversity and Latino organizations.
Comcast Vice President David Cohen beamed as he received the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Diversity and Inclusion Award on Feb. 20, just weeks after Governor Tom Corbett gleefully pledge state support of a second Comcast tower in Philadelphia and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce congratulated the company on its plans to devour Time Warner Cable in an epic feast of conglomeration.
According to a Feb 21. New York Times article, the company's influence is growing thanks to a campaign to reach elected officials as well as the movers and shakers in the non-profit sector. With more than 100 official lobbyists in Washington, D.C., alone, Comcast has recruited former members of congress and former FCC commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker to join the company's ranks.
In 2011, 94 percent of congressmen who supported the FCC's approval of the Comcast NBC merger received contributions from company executives or Comcast's political action committee, according to the New York Times. But congress isn't the only target for the company.
Comcast is still waiting on FCC approval of the Time Warner Cable merger. According to the New York Times, the company is enlisting all of its resources to ensure the acquisition's success. One of the factors that the FCC considers in its decision is commitment to diversity and local communities.
The New York Times article reported that Comcast's charitable foundation has donated more than $300,000 to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce over the past five years—a fund run in part by Cohen, whose responsibilities also include government affairs. Whether National Council of La Raza ($2.2 million), National Urban League ($835,000), New York's Hispanic Federation ($345,000) or National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators ($250,000), the Comcast foundation has been busy in the past eight years, donating more than $5 million across 18 Latino organizations, and millions more to African American, Asian American and Arab American groups.
The company also boasts 260,000 internet essential customers across the states, a program that provides internet to low-income families with children for around $10 a month. For low-income singles or couples without children, basic internet is $40 a month, many times the rate of internet outside the United States.
In a statement on Comcast's planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable, the National Hispanic Media Coalition wrote that the organization is, "studying whether Comcast has fulfilled all of the commitments it made to the Latino community in the context of its acquisition of NBC Universal," before drawing conclusions about the deal. The NHMC is a staunch supporter of FCC net neutrality control opposed by internet providers like Verizon.
The FCC's control over internet providers is slipping out of the commission's grasp, according to former FCC commissioner Michael Copps, who recently wrote an apologetic letter to journalists around the United States admitting that the commission has a big-business bias that is destroying democracy.