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Pan-Asian Group Pans Comcast/NBCU In Petition To Deny Deal

The Comcast/NBCU merger has drawn its first petition to deny, according to the FCC, whose doors were opened wide for comment and criticism this week.

It came March 15 from a self-described "Pan-Asian" group called the Mabuhay Alliance, which felt dissed by what they said was a lack of references to their constituency in the proposed deal's filing, including its public interest filing.

"The combined 749 page application and appendix contain no references to America's 15 million Asian Americans or any references as to their past treatment or future treatment by Comcast and NBCU," the group said in opposing the deal as currently constituted. But they suggested there was a way to make them happier.

"As a condition for allowing this proceeding to continue," they said. "we formally request that the FCC order Comcast to revise its 145 page application and set forth specific and unique benefits this acquisition will have for 15 million Asian Americans, including those most ignored, such as Vietnamese Americans, Korean Americans, Filipino Americans, Samoans, Hmong, Thais, Cambodians and Indonesians."

But they were looking for bucks as sell as benefits. Other items on their deal wish list include getting Comcast to pony up $1 billion to the FCC for a "diversity fund" to promote minority media and create a paid ("fully compensate" 11-member Asian American Advisory Board.

Not only did they submit a petition, but grabbed some face time with Commissioner Mignon Clyburn this week about their issues with the deal. Clyburn is particularly focused on diversity of voices issues, including as part of the national broadband plan and FCC reviews of media ownership rules and proposals to spur media ownership by women and minorities.

The Alliance told Clyburn it was willing to talk with Comcast Chairman Brian Roberts over their issues, but had been unable to get a meeting with top or middle-management.

A Comcast spokesperson said that the company has been in continuing discussions regarding the Comcast-NBCU joint venture with the leadership of multiple national diversity organizations including the Asian American Justice Center.

One of the deal's biggest critics, Free Press, told B&C/Multi that it would definitely make its opposition known, but stopped short of saying it would definitely petition to deny the deal. "Now is the time for Americans to raise their voices and stop this merger, which will only lead to higher prices and fewer choices," Free Press Executive Director Josh Silver said. "We will be filing comments and will be encouraging our friends around the country to object to the takeover, especially those people who live in the eleven markets where there is an NBC station and Comcast is the dominant cable and Internet provider."