Hispanic Digital Opportunity: The NBC-Comcast Venture
Access to 21st Century technologies will continue to impact Hispanics’ opportunities for economic and social advancement. To that end, Latino organizations have worked with Congress and key federal agencies to advance forward-looking policy decisions that more quickly put those technologies in the hands of those who need them. The imminent marriage of NBC Universal and Comcast, pending approval from the Department of Justice and the FCC, is an opportunity that includes a much-lauded negotiation of ground-breaking commitments from the merging companies with national Latino-serving organizations.
The Memorandum of Understanding entered into between Comcast and some of America’s top Hispanic leaders was released in June. In it, the company agreed to some revolutionary commitments aimed at promoting a more diverse high-tech world, not the least of which is a $20 million investment capital fund aimed at minority tech entrepreneurs who develop new media content and applications. In addition to commitments on Hispanic content creation and expansion – including the addition of 10 new independent cable channels, four of which will be reserved for Hispanic networks and for the expansion of NBC’s Spanish language broadcast properties like Telemundo and mun2 onto online and On Demand platforms – these pledges will have the full weight of an external diversity council that will help Comcast executives meet their benchmarks.
More recently, Comcast announced its “Comcast Broadband Opportunity Program” (“CBOP”), a brand new deal-related offering which will enable Americans living on the wrong side of the income divide to get on the right side of the digital divide. For households with at least one child eligible for a free lunch under the National School Lunch Program, Comcast will offer a $9.95 per month high-speed Internet connection, low cost computer hardware, and access to education and other relevant online content – addressing in a single stroke three of the most common barriers to broadband adoption among Hispanics. In my mind, there is no more critical benefit to the deal than the immediate implementation of the CBOP.