Comcast Seeks Proposals for Black-Majority-Owned Independent Cable Networks

By Sameer Rao Dec 16, 2016

The country’s largest telecommunications company is soliciting proposals for two new predominantly Black-owned independent cable networks. 

Comcast Cable, the corporation‘s cable television arm, announced plans yesterday (December 15) to launch the networks by January 2019. Interested parties must submit proposals by March 15, 2017. The company called for submissions across entertainment genres, and will judge the proposals using the following criteria:

The content of the network; whether the network is fully financed; whether the network’s ownership and/or management group(s) are well established, have relevant experience, and are substantially owned by African Americans; whether the network is already launched and has existing or potential multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) distribution; price; and whether the network and its potential carriage provide value to Comcast and its customers. 

Comcast has launched four networks majority-owned by people of color: ASPiRE, Revolt, Baby First Americas and El Rey. Each network debuted following Comcast’s 2011 merger with NBC, which prompted significant concern over possible content monopolization that would negatively affect networks owned by and addressed to people of color. Similar controversy overshadowed the telecom giant’s failed 2014 merger with Time Warner Cable.

Comedian and Entertainment Studios Networks CEO Byron Allen previously sued Comcast (and several other media conglomerates) for allegedly exclusing Black-owned networks like his from competitive licensing contracts. The Comcast suit is still pending.