Unintended benefits of Comcast-Time Warner merger

Terry Arnold

The recently proposed acquisition of Time Warner by Comcast is a good deal for all involved, and for many who are not. The all-stock merger is valued at $45 billion, and comes after an eight-month takeover battle with Charter Communications and Liberty Media. The strategic approval of Time Warner stockholders is the first move toward stability and growth for Comcast, but has a wealth of potential for the broadcast landscape and those traditionally omitted from its terrain.

While the transaction will certainly raise eyebrows, and possibly the ire, of Washington, D.C., regulators, they must look behind the apparent conglomerate appearance of the merger and see the potential it has for smaller interests who may not otherwise have or realize the shared benefit of resources and opportunities.

Supported by numerous professional and watchdog interests, this merger stands to level and make available a playing field rarely even seen by many, including minority broadcast interests comprised of African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and women. These groups are notably and severely underserved as it relates to employment and network ownership. Production involvement and overall visibility of these groups are also arguable points.

Yet the record of Comcast has proven that it is both aware of and responsive to the need to provide access and involvement for these groups. It begins with the creation of its Joint Diversity Advisory Council, which consists of four, nine-member diversity councils, each of which is comprised of representatives from the aforementioned groups. These councils are designed to oversee and execute strategies that encourage and make available opportunities for participation in the broadcast spectrum of Comcast.

With less than 4 percent of all broadcast properties owned by minorities or women, there is a drastic need to increase their visibility and active participation. But Comcast has a record of minority involvement. Time Warner does not.

In their partnership with Bright House Cable, Time Warner has failed to show an interest in or a passion to improve the landscape of the community through minority- and woman-owned or oriented broadcast entities in the U.S. It pales in comparison to that of Comcast. In addition, Comcast has launched more minority- and woman-owned networks than any other cable network in the United States.

Comcast is also present and participatory in the communities it serves, and ensures that the least of those are armed with the tools to prepare for and compete in a global economy. A significant outreach is the provision of the Internet through its Internet is Essential program and cable in schools to serve the community’s underprivileged populations.

While growth and expansions are a naturally desirable strategy of any business, it is imperative in an industry as important, influential and lucrative as broadcast communications do so with the community footprint and future both in mind and reflected in their actions.

In order for this to be a reality for those otherwise omitted from the broadcast landscape, we wholeheartedly support the proposed merger between Time Warner and Comcast.

Terry Arnold is senior vice president of Impact Network, the only African-American founded and operated Christian network in the United States.