Lawmakers push FCC for diversity in merger deals

Dozens of lawmakers are pushing the Federal Communications Commission to make sure that multibillion-dollar media mergers include measures to boost opportunities for women and minorities.

In a letter led by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), 51 lawmakers including members of the Congressional Black Caucus told the FCC to prioritize diversity as it reviews planned mergers between Comcast and Time Warner Cable as well as AT&T and DirecTV. 

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The lawmakers included a list of “guiding principles” for the FCC to include in upcoming merger applications, including goals for diversity of executives, lawyers, real estate professionals and financial aides.

The FCC, they wrote, “must ensure applications contain enforceable commitments that create opportunities for women and minorities in media ownership, management, programming, distribution, advertising, and procurement — including contracts for legal, accounting, and financial services.”

The growing concentration of media companies “not only threatens media competition, but it could further diminish economic opportunities for women and minorities within an industry that has seen precipitous declines in diversity over the past several years,” they added.

In response to the letter, Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice said that the company has strived to be “a model for diversity and inclusion, and we are proud to have been recognized widely for that commitment.”

“We have achieved significant accomplishments in driving diversity in governance, workforce, procurement, programming, and community investment,” she added. “We look forward to extending our best in class diversity practices to the entire Time Warner Cable footprint.”

Lawmakers said that voluntary commitments were not enough.

“Prior experience with ‘mega-merger’ proposals shows that even the most reasonable conditions and diversity pledges go unenforced when they are not incorporated to the merger application as addendums,” they wrote.  

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