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Comcast Strikes Diversity Deal With Asian-American Groups

Comcast has reached an agreement with five advocacy groups on a number of steps it and NBC Universal promise to take to boost Asian-American representation in the company's corporate governance, employment. workforce retention, recruitment, procurement, programming and philanthropy.

The agreement includes either expanding distribution of an Asian American-targeted channel or adding one owned and/or operated by Asian Americans. At one point, Comcast owned and operated and Asian American-targeted service, but it shutttered AZN Network, which counted nearly 14 million subscribers, mostly on systems it owned, in of April  2008, stating at the time that channel was no longer financially viable.

Comcast-NBCU have already pledged to add Hispanic and African American-owned channels as part of the proposed merger. 

The groups signing on the agreement were the Asian American Justice Center, Organization of Chinese Americans, Japanese American Citizens League, East West Players and Media Action Network.

The groups sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission Tuesday urging it to approve the deal. "Comcast has demonstrated taht it recognizes the importance of diversity not just as a societal value but also as a business philosophy," the groups said. "We thus believe that the approval of this joint venture will mark a significant advance for the cause of diversity in media and entertainment."

Comcast announced the memo of understanding Wednesday, which it is submitting to the FCC as part of the record in its proposed joint venture with NBCU. That joins other agreements struck with African American groups, Hispanic groups and independent production groups, all including pledged for greater diversity in programming and business practices.

Among the steps Comcast has promised to take are making a "best effort" to fill a future board seat with an Asian American, designate a senior level staffer as liaison with the Asian American community, create an Asian American advisory board, add Asian American staffers, increase its business with Asian American-owned vendors,
"Today, we signed a landmark agreement with five of the nation's leading Asian American media and civil rights organizations that will help advance Comcast's mission to increase diversity," said Susan Jin Davis, vice president, strategic services communications and data services, for Comcast Cable. "[W]hile our dedication to diversity is long-standing, the commitments announced today position us to better compete in an increasingly diverse business environment. I'm particularly proud of our commitments to increase diversity in the area of programming. Those commitments recognize the growing influence in content creation and consumption in the Asian-American community."