Aug 3, 2011

Building a Strong Record of Diversity in 2011

Last week, we reached the six month anniversary of the close of the Comcast/NBCUniversal transaction. As today's second quarter earnings report confirmed, the business integration has been terrific, and we announced strong operating and financial results across our cable and content businesses. Comcast Cable's revenue for the quarter was up 6% over 2010's 2Q and its operating cash flow increased 7%, while NBCUniversal's revenue was up 17% and its OCF increased by 5.2%.

In addition to our business successes, however, we've made real progress on a number of the commitments we made in connection with the transaction, including in the diversity space. Both Comcast and NBCUniversal have strong diversity traditions, and while we've made real progress in delivering on our diversity commitments, we know those efforts remain a work in process. But given the momentum we've created, I wanted to provide an update on Comcast's and NBCUniversal's diversity programs since the deal closed on January 28th.

You'll likely remember that last year's review of our transaction provided a unique window into the significant issues of diversity in the media space. There was a lot of discussion about the unhappy state of affairs surrounding diversity in the media. And while everyone acknowledged that neither Comcast nor NBCUniversal had created those issues, and that we alone couldn't solve them, the review of our large, high-profile media transaction provided a great forum to air these important issues. We were more than happy to embrace that dialogue and the responsibility that as one of the most visible players in the media world we should pursue an aggressive diversity and inclusion agenda. Of course, words are easy to say, but actions demonstrate how real our commitments are. And all of us are very proud of the actions we've taken to date.

The good news begins with the fact that we have not missed one deadline related to our voluntary diversity commitments.

  • In March, we created our external Joint Diversity Advisory Council to advise our executives and the diversity teams at Comcast and NBCUniversal on our diversity initiatives. The 40-member Joint Council is comprised of national leaders from the business, media, and civil rights sectors. They represent the interests of African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics, and women as well as veterans, Native Americans, people with disabilities, and the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) community.

  • In May, we hosted the Joint Council's first meeting in Philadelphia and shared our Master Strategic Plan for diversity and our Benchmark Study — both prepared on time and with input from the Joint Council.

  • In April, Maria Arias joined the Comcast Corporate team in the newly-created role of Executive Director of Diversity and Inclusion. Arias and the diversity team are responsible for driving diversity initiatives across our companies and for coordinating all work with the Joint Council.

  • While Paula Madison, NBCUniversal's long-time head of diversity, announced her retirement shortly after the transaction closed, we happily announced today the hiring of Craig Robinson, formerly the General Manager of KNBC in Los Angeles, to the position of Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of NBCUniversal. Reporting to Steve Burke, the CEO of NBCUniversal, Craig will help drive diversity initiatives within NBCUniversal, and will work with Maria and her team and me to over-deliver on all of our diversity commitments across Comcast and NBCUniversal.

  • Comcast's shareholders in May elected Eduardo Mestre, Vice Chairman of Evercore Partners of New York, to Comcast's Board of Directors. One of the highest ranking Hispanic executives on Wall Street, Eduardo is the first Hispanic to join the Comcast Board, and his election delivers on Comcast's commitment to add a Hispanic director more than a year ahead of schedule.

  • We've also made key promotions and hires of diverse talent both in front of and behind the camera. For example, in May, NBCUniversal announced Ann Curry as the new co-anchor of TODAY, Natalie Morales as news anchor, and Savannah Guthrie as the new co-host of the 9:00 hour of TODAY, rounding out a diverse team of on-air talent that also includes Al Roker and Matt Lauer. We've also promoted Antoine Sanfuentes and Ken Strickland to the number 1 and number 2 positions in the Washington News Bureau; Bret Perkins as Vice President of External and Government Affairs at Comcast; Keith Cheatham as Vice President, Corporate Real Estate and Insurance for Comcast and NBCUniversal; and Johnnie Giles as Executive Director of External Affairs for Comcast, to name just a few.

  • Earlier this year, Comcast added five diverse recruiting firms to its roster and NBCUniversal added 11 diverse firms spanning all ethnic groups and women.

  • We're also proud to say that senior management bonus metrics in 2011 have been tied to the achievement of diversity initiatives, focusing on the progress of more than 16,000 managers across both organizations.

There also is exciting news on the Programming front:

  • Comcast has reviewed more than 100 proposals in the first round of our effort to launch 10 new independent channels over the next eight years, eight of which will be African American or Latino owned and/or operated. We are completely energized by the breadth of new ideas and have narrowed the initial field based on the merit of the proposals. We will begin engaging this first round of finalists in deeper business discussions. The first Hispanic channel will launch by this time next year with the two African American-owned networks launching by the end of January 2013.

  • Last week, Comcast announced that it has reached agreement to expand the reach of eight Hispanic networks by more than 14 million subscribers. We had pledged to boost the carriage of three networks by 10 million subscribers, and we were proud to over-deliver significantly on this commitment. We are on track to add another 3 million households, so we expect to be 70 percent above goal on that commitment to bring diverse programming to new audiences.

  • In the spring, we also announced plans to plans to boost the reach of Mnet, the English-language Asian pop culture channel, by more than 2 million subscribers. And two African-American-owned networks, The Africa Channel and TV One, will be added to a combined 2.3 million new homes.

  • Comcast's On Demand and Online video services have offered timely ethnic programming this year, including Black Cinema On Demand,Cinema Asian America/KPOP, and LGBT Pride movie collection, and we have boosted Hispanic on Demand to more than 650 choices.

  • NBC has been repeatedly honored this year for the positive images of diversity in its entertainment and news programming and for advancing the careers of minorities.

We have also been diligent about creating opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses and for minority entrepreneurs. Diversity in our procurement practices is an area we have focused on for years. We are committed to creating a level playing field for the pursuit of our business or helping to seed new minority entrepreneurial ventures.

  • In May, Comcast Ventures announced a new partnership with DreamIt Ventures, the leading technology accelerator for entrepreneurs, to provide seed funding, training, mentoring, and other benefits to five minority-led startups. The Minority Entrepreneur Accelerator Program (MEAP) is Comcast Ventures' first initiative from the $20 million Opportunity Fund formed as part of the NBCUniversal transaction to expand opportunities for minority entrepreneurs.

  • In March, NBCUniversal attended the 25th Annual Reservation Economic Summit (RES 2011) & American Indian Business Trade Fair. RES is the largest and longest-running national American Indian business event in the United States. The summit included American Indian and Indigenous entrepreneurs and economic decision-makers as well as government and corporate executives and buyers.

  • In June, NBCUniversal sponsored and attended the National Minority Supplier Development Council's (NMSDC) annual awards dinner.

  • Earlier this year, Comcast enlisted Burrell Communications, an African American-owned advertising agency, as its agency of record for its African American consumer market advertising.

  • In 2011, Comcast expanded its relationship with Concordis Real Estate Advisors, LLC, the largest national commercial real estate services company wholly-owned and -operated by minority professionals, to work on real estate brokerage deals in Comcast's Northeast Division.

And there are more highlights that should be included in any accounting of our progress on diversity.

  • This week, Comcast and NBCUniversal will be title sponsors of the 2011 National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Annual Convention and Career Fair in Philadelphia.

  • Last week, Comcast and NBCUniversal were sponsors for the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza in Washington, D.C.

  • We will be in New York this weekend for the national convention of the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA), where we are the exclusive media sponsor. We will also be a Gold Sponsor of the annual conference and career fair of the National Association of Asian-American Professionals (NAAAP) in Boston next week.

  • And this summer, we take aim at what has become a 21st Century Civil Rights issue — broadband adoption. Internet Essentials, a groundbreaking broadband adoption program, will provide low-cost access to the Internet and affordable computers as well as digital literacy training to families with children who are eligible to receive free lunches under the National School Lunch Program. We're committed to this program because we know we can help level the playing field for these families who are at risk of falling even further behind by connecting students online with their teachers and schools, and parents with the resources for employment, health care, and other benefits.

Diversity and inclusion are not just about thinking the right way or saying the right words. They are about doing the right thing. We have been doing so all year, and we know we are just getting started. We're proud of our fast start, and we're energized to keep the momentum going.

Tags : Comcast Ventures, Comcast/NBCUniversal, Craig Robinson, diversity commitments, DreamIt Ventures, earnings, Eduardo Mestre, Joint Diversity Advisory Council, Maria Arias, NBCUniversal, TODAY


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