Did FCC Chairman Give Race-Based Special Interests Veto Power over Approval of NBC-Comcast Merger?
Washington, D.C. – Members of the Project 21 black leadership group are questioning whether FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's approval of the NBC Universal-Comcast merger was contingent upon the two companies making major concessions to minority special interest groups.
Deneen Borelli, a full-time fellow with Project 21 who is calling for a Congressional investigation, says the FCC may have tacitly approved the "race card" being played against the companies.
"It would seem corporate shakedowns are still alive and well in 2011," said Borelli. "It's appalling that General Electric and Comcast are allowing themselves to be bullied by special interests. The fact that Genachowski jumped on board to essentially give the Obama Administration's seal of approval so soon after the race-hustlers gave their go-ahead appears to be more than just coincidence, and it's something that deserves the attention of congressional investigators."
General Electric owns NBC Universal.
According to Matthew Boyle, writing in the Daily Caller, Genachowski's support for the NBCU-Comcast merger came less than a week after the companies entered into "memorandums of understanding" with black, Hispanic and Asian special interest groups. The payout includes $20 million for "minority entrepreneurs," six new minority channels (of which at least the black channels will include race-specific ownership guarantees) and influence over programming.
Those memorandums were signed on December 14. Al Sharpton's National Action Network, the NAACP and the National Urban League wrote to Genachowski in support of the NBCU-Comcast merger on December 16. On December 23, Genachowski announced his own support for the merger. In addition to his group signing the group letter, Sharpton announced in mid-December that he was involved in meetings with FCC officials -- meetings purported at the time to be about talk radio host Rush Limbaugh.
Influence gained by these racial special interests in the deal with regard to programming includes possible oversight of the news division. According to the memorandum of understanding with the NAN, NAACP and NUL: "NBCU will strive to ensure the presentation of diverse viewpoints by seeking the expanded participation of minorities on its news and public affairs programming. To advance this goal, NBCU will consider suggestions from the African American Advisory Council of individuals who could be considered for such participation."
"The federal government's role in approving mergers is supposed to be predicated on the best interests of the consumer," added Project 21's Horace Cooper, an attorney and member of the board of directors of the National Center for Public Policy Research, which sponsors Project 21. "Shakedowns and set asides should play no role in the process."
Project 21's Borelli added: "It's an affront to free enterprise and fairness for specific groups to be given special treatment. The election of President Obama was allegedly supposed to herald the end of preferential treatment, but it sadly appears that it is not. In a time of slow economic growth and high unemployment, giving financial advantages based on color can only increase racial tension and decrease sound business decision-making."
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives since 1992, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org).