By John Eggerton — Broadcasting & Cable, December 17, 2010
Comcast and NBCU have reached a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the NAACP, National Urban League and National Action Network (Rev. Al Sharpton) on the steps, most already outlined, it will take to promote diversity in corporate governance, employment/workforce recruitment and retention, procurement, programming, and philanthropy and community investments.
“This historic agreement is a template for how major corporations should commit to concrete ways they will make equity and fairness part of their business plan,” said Sharpton in a statement. “This agreement supports workers, businesses, artists, and charities in our community. It is a major step toward changing the corporate culture in how it relates to our community and will help define 21st century Civil Rights.”
“This agreement represents a positive step in the right direction for the principle of diversity, inclusion and economic opportunity,” added Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League. “We applaud Comcast and NBC Universal for its willingness to enter into written commitments toward the goal of building a first-class communications concern. We thank them for their insight and commitment.”
Comcast has already made numerous commitments to boosting African American participation in its business, including outlining them in a letter to Congress in connection with a Chicago forum on the proposed deal. But Thursday’s announcement puts those commitments in the form of a binding pledge to these groups, similar to ones struck with Hispanic and Asian American groups, the latter announced just this week as the FCC and Justice wrap up their review of the deal.
The three African American groups have already been supportive of the deal, but will file a new letter to that effect with the FCC Friday, according to a spokesman for the NAACP. Comcast will also file the new agreement in the FCC docket on the deal.
Comcast is still hoping for an FCC and Justice Department decision by the end of the year, though January is more likely. The chairman may circulate a draft before year’s end, but the commissioners have at least 21 days to vote it out and a source close to one commissioner suggested they would have needed to see a draft by November to vote it out by the end of the year.