Published On: Sun, Aug 3rd, 2014

Congress Conditions Comcast Time Warner Deal on Boosting Latino Channels

House Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing On Proposed Merger Of Comcast And Time Warner

Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.) and 52 other House members expect Comcast to commit to carrying Latino-focused channels as the cable behemoth is asking lawmakers’ permission to buy Time Warner Cable, variety reports.

In a letter to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus, the lawmakers suggest the new company will reach at least 90% of Latino households in the U.S.

“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.”

The lawmakers expect Comcast and TW Cable to make a “formal commitment” to carrying independent Latino channels, and to guarantee those channels won’t be forced to operate on an “uneven playing field.”

Comcast’s executive vice president David L. Cohen responded by defending his company’s menu of Latino content. He wrote the lawmakers that comcast’s record was “best in class in the industry.”

The DOJ and the FCC are reviewing the proposed transaction, and Comcast is likely to face additional demands for various commitments from both.

“Through the transaction with Time Warner Cable, we are committed to bringing high-quality Hispanic content to millions of additional Americas, ” Cohen wrote. “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.”

When Comcast acquired a controlling stake in NBCUniversal in 2011, it committed to adding 10 new independent channels by 2019.

Cohen noted: “Since 2011, Comcast has expanded the total distribution of seven Hispanic programming networks by more than 14 million subscribers. This exceeds by more than 40 percent our commitment in the NBCUniversal transaction to expand three Hispanic networks by 10 million subscribers.”

Rep. Cardenas’ letter cautioned that “for most of the Latinos in our nation, merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable would mean one company controlling their window to the world of culture and entertainment.”

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