Congressman Tony Cardenas

Representing the 29th District of California
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CÁRDENAS, DOZENS OF REPS, DEMAND POTENTIAL COMCAST-TIME WARNER MERGER PROTECT INDEPENDENT LATINO VOICES IN MEDIA

Aug 3, 2014
Press Release
This week, U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley) and more than fifty of his House colleagues sent a letter to the Chairman and CEOs of both Comcast Corporation and Time Warner Cable, regarding their concerns with the proposed merger of the two companies.

CÁRDENAS, DOZENS OF REPS, DEMAND POTENTIAL COMCAST-TIME WARNER MERGER PROTECT INDEPENDENT LATINO VOICES IN MEDIA

(Washington, DC) -- This week, U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley) and more than fifty of his House colleagues sent a letter to the Chairman and CEOs of both Comcast Corporation and Time Warner Cable, regarding their concerns with the proposed merger of the two companies.

The letter, sent to Robert Marcus of Time Warner Cable and Brian Roberts of Comcast, expressed strong support for independent television program providers that cater to the Latino community in America, particularly those owned and controlled by Latinos.

The letter was also signed by Bass, Beatty, Becerra, Bishop, Brown, Brownley, Cardenas, Carson, Clarke, Costa, Castro, Cuellar, Danny Davis, Eshoo, Farr, Fattah, Fudge, Gallego, Garcia, Al Green, Gene Green, Grijalva, Gutierrez, Hahn, Hinojosa, Jackson-Lee, EB Johnson, Holmes Norton, Honda, Robin Kelly, Kennedy, Lee, Lowenthal, Lujan Grisham, Pastor, Payne, Pierluisi, Polis, Rangel, Roybal-Allard, Ruiz, Rush, Loretta Sanchez, Schiff, Bobby Scott, Serrano, Sires, Sewall, Vargas, Vela, Velasquez, Veasey, Waters.

It also called on the companies to make a formal commitment to carrying independent Latino program providers, including those owned and controlled by Latinos, and establishing clear safeguards to ensure these channels do not operate on an uneven playing field when compared with mainstream programming.

“For most of the Latinos in our nation, a merger between Comcast and Time Warner would mean one company controlling their window to the world of culture and entertainment,” said Cárdenas. “It is extremely important, both to my colleagues and me, that a great deal of care is taken to ensure that as many diverse voices as possible are available to the panoply of Americans who wish to seek them out.”

Members, including Cárdenas, were concerned with the power one company could have over the programming their constituents receive and the access of the smaller, independent program providers to the marketplace. Should the merger go through as planned, Comcast would be the cable provider for as many as 90 percent of Latino pay TV subscribers nationwide. In some instances, Comcast would provide the only cable television service available, giving them incredible power to allow or deny diverse voices on the airwaves.

Independent content providers have historically faced disadvantages in the communications marketplace, particularly those providers owned or controlled by minorities. Mainstream providers have consistently had advantageous channel placement and received better funding through user fees. Meanwhile, independent providers often struggle with channel slots and subscriber fees.

Independent providers also have a track record of promoting Latino talent both on-camera and throughout all aspects of production, increasing diversity in the media marketplace. Thus, when these providers struggle, there is increased likelihood that minority audiences, particularly Latinos, will fail to be served with diverse perspectives.

Members who signed the letter to Comcast and Time Warner want to ensure their constituents have access to independent program providers, and believe ongoing media consolidation must not threaten equal access to cable carriage, allowing unique and independent content to create economic viability and encourage further innovation in Latino content.

Cárdenas has become a leading voice on issues related to media consolidation and vertical integration that can potentially harm consumers. Last week, he authored a letter to the Chairman of the FCC, calling for mediation in a dispute over carriage of Dodgers baseball games, which has been ongoing between Time Warner and L.A.-area cable and satellite operators.

Following Cárdenas’ letter, the Chairman wrote Time Warner, encouraging a solution to the stalemate and demanding documentation regarding negotiations between Time Warner and the cable and satellite operators. Chairman Wheeler also responded to Cárdenas, writing to thank him for his letter and express their shared concerns.

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Mr. Robert D. Marcus

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Time Warner Cable

60 Columbus Circle, 17th Floor
New York, NY 10023

 

Mr. Brian L. Roberts

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Comcast Corporation

One Comcast Center
Philadelphia, PA 19103

 

 

Dear Mr. Marcus and Mr. Roberts:

 

We are writing to express our strong support for independent television program providers that cater to the Latino community around the country, particularly Latino owned and controlled independent programmers. We want to acknowledge and commend the important commitments your companies have made to the Latino community, however, in today’s increasingly consolidated media environment, these program providers are facing new challenges in addition to their historic disadvantage in the marketplace. Independent Latino program providers are essential for educating the Latino community on important topics such as the arts, history, music, education, entertainment, and world affairs.

 

Unfortunately, independent Latino program providers operate on an uneven playing field that threatens to limit the Latino community’s access to their important perspectives. 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. Because these providers currently lack sufficient leverage, audiences in the Latino community are at risk of never having the opportunity to view and hear from these diverse voices.

 

Independent Latino program providers fill an important void that has too often been unfilled by mainstream program providers with powerful corporate parent companies. For example, these providers have a proven track record of promoting Latino talent in front of and behind the camera. They also provide original content that is culturally relevant and inclusive. There are a number of great examples who provide a valuable service to Latino families across the country. 

 

As Members of Congress, many of whom represent large Hispanic populations, we believe it is essential that these independent program providers, especially those owned and operated by Latino Americans, have the opportunity to reach the growing Latino market by having equal access to secure nationwide cable carriage that allows them to reach enough cable subscribers to achieve economic viability. If the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable is approved, it is estimated that the new Comcast Corporation will reach over 90% of Latino households in the United States. This makes it even more important that efforts are made to ensure the Latino community has access to providers that are culturally inclusive and cater to the Latino audience. 

 

As you move forward with the proposed merger, we strongly encourage your companies to make a formal commitment to carriage of independent Latino program providers, including Latino owned and controlled independent programmers, and establish clear safeguards to ensure these channels do not operate on an uneven playing field in the future and will be available to a wide set of audiences. As these providers are already at a disadvantage, this is essential for protecting diverse perspectives in our national dialogue.

 

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to continuing to work with you on this issue.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

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