Charter Makes Diversity Pledge To Groups

New York -- Charter Communications Friday pledged to create a chief diversity officer and add more minorities to its board of directors as part of a memorandum of understanding it signed with a dozen civic organizations serving communities of color. 

As part of the MOU, Charter – which is waiting on the FCC to approve its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable and, in some quarters, facing off against skepticism from programming companies – has agreed to appoint an African-American, Asian-American/Pacific-Islander and one Hispanic American to its newly formed board of directors once the merger is complete. Charter also said it will appoint a chief diversity officer to head its diversity and inclusion efforts.

Charter CEO Tom Rutledge -- who Friday, in a symbolic ceremony on Dr. Martin Luther King’s actual birth date, signed the MOU along with leaders from the Action Network, the National Urban League, the League of United Latin American Citizens and the National Council Of La Raza -- told Multichannel News that the company is proud of its diversity efforts but pledges to do more the deal is complete, making it the second-biggest U.S. TV provider. 

“While we are committed to [diversity] today, we will be a much bigger, more high-profile kind of organization so we will make a public commitment to diversity with binding obligations on us,” Rutledge said.

The Action Network head the Rev. Al Sharpton praised Rutledge and Charter’s commitment to diversity, but said he and the other organizations will keep a close eye on whether the company keeps its word.

“This is an historic agreement and it will set a precedent as to what must happen in the media world as we continue to see these mergers,” Sharpton told Multichannel News. “We intend to hold them to it.” 

The full list of diversity groups signing the MOU include the National Urban League, National Action Network, National Council of La Raza, League of United Latin American Citizens, National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, SER-National, Hispanic Federation, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), Asian Pacific American Advocates (OCA), Media Action Network for Asian Americans, East West Players, and the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies.

 For more from Rutledge, Sharpton and the event, including video, see Multichannel News and on Tuesday (following the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday).

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.