WIMN’s Voices: A Group Blog on Women, Media, AND…

Will the Comcast-NBC Merger Give You Diarrhea? Ask Liz Lemon!

GuestBloggers Icon Posted by Guest Blogger

February 3rd, 2011

By Guest Blogger Jenn Ettinger

The Comcast-NBC Universal merger was finalized last week, and its impact on our media environment is likely to be grim. Ultimately, this new giant company will control not just vast amounts content, but how people can access that content via broadcast, cable and the Internet. The result will be fewer voices and fewer choices across the board – which historically means the voices and perspectives of women and people of color suffer most.

Media consolidation does more than just “streamline business practices,” as Comcast so optimistically puts it. The Comcast-NBC merger puts total control over production and distribution in the hands of one company. In a not so thinly veiled reference to the real-world merger, NBC’s “30 Rock” recently summarized precisely why this kind of top-down control is troubling:

Liz: What’s vertical integration?

Jack: Imagine that your favorite corn chip manufacturer also owned the number one diarrhea medication.

Liz: That’d be great ’cause then they could put a little sample of the medication in each bag.

Jack: Keep thinking.

Liz: Except then they might be tempted to make the corn chips GIVE you…

Jack: Vertical integration.

Liz: Wow, that should not be allowed to happen.

This satirical episode — which also mocked the network’s lack of diverse programming — was, sadly, one of the only critiques of the merger to appear in corporate media.

The Comcast-NBC merger certainly does nothing on its surface to promote media ownership by women and people of color. And the conditions and commitments attached to the merger by the Federal Communications Commission, which were intended to lessen the damage to competition and the media system, do little to nothing to advance the needs of underserved communities.

The structure of the media, and as a result the content, has historically excluded women and communities of color. With ever-increasing consolidation of licenses to operate stations, barriers to entry are raised; there simply aren’t licenses available, and they’re difficult for an independent owner to obtain.

A 2007 study by Free Press (PDF) found that women, who make up 51 percent of the U.S. population, owned less than 6 percent of television stations. People of color made up approximately 3 percent of station owners despite representing 34 percent of the population. The study also found that after an era of pro-consolidation policies in the late 1990s, minority ownership dropped 40 percent.

The investment required to become a viable player is significant. Most women and people of color only own, if any, a single station in a market, compared to a major media conglomerate with not only several stations in the same market, but nationwide as well. As is, it’s difficult to compete as the owner of a single station in a small market, but now that Comcast, already the dominant cable provider in most markets, will own NBC stations in those same places, it will be nearly impossible.

When communities are not represented in the ownership of media, you can bet they’re not represented in the content. The corporate media’s characterizations and portrayals of women and people of color have great influence over how we view entire groups of people.

Women and communities of color are significantly underrepresented in cable programming. Where are the shows for women? For Latinos? For African Americans? For all of those whose voices are consistently left out of the mainstream media? Flipping through the channels, you’ll find Lifetime, Bravo, Style and E!, among a few others, which are specifically marketed to women. BET, TV One, CiTV and Galavision are marketed to black and Latino audiences. But a few channels on a cable system that prides itself on offering over 250 so-called choices is barely an acknowledgement of the diversity of its audience. And what do those channels really offer that is substantive or informative to those they are supposedly intended to reach? The “Real Housewives of the City Nearest You” might be mildly entertaining, but its value is debatable at best (at worst culturally toxic, as documented in the book Reality Bites Back).

If stereotypical, cheaply-produced shows are the sort of content specifically geared toward us, we’re in for much more of the same now that Comcast owns NBC Universal and all of its cable properties. This “synergy” will allow Comcast to populate its channels with recycled, repurposed content, and will push quality, independent programs and channels to minor, unpopular channels. Part of this problem also stems from the lack of women and people of color as content producers, and the inability for the few who are out there to have their programming reach the major network and cable channels that aren’t relegated to the far reaches of the dial.

In a hearing on the merger last year, California Congresswoman Maxine Waters blasted NBC Universal’s then-President Jeff Zucker for the lack of African American programming.

From the L.A. Times:

“Is there some assumption that black programming is not profitable?” Waters asked Zucker.

“Not at all,” he replied.

Why then, she wondered, are there no shows on NBC aimed specifically at black viewers? She noted that Tyler Perry has created very successful movies and TV shows.

Zucker tried to point out that the network had a history of successful black shows, but Waters wasn’t up for a trip down memory lane.

“That was then and now is now,” she said, adding, “Black viewers deserve the kind of content they feel good about. … I don’t understand why you don’t pursue it and why you don’t do it.”

The Comcast merger, approved with practically a champagne toast from the Federal Communications Commission, is just the first domino, and it has set a frightening precedent for mega-media consolidation. It won’t be long before we see major cable and Internet providers exploring opportunities to expand their own portfolios. AT&T could buy out ABC-Disney, or Verizon could acquire CBS. The space for diverse voices in the media has already diminished, and it will shrink even further unless we stand up. We must demand different perspectives as diverse as the communities we live in. We want choices and we want voices. We must settle for nothing less.

[Editorial Note: To take action, connect with any of these leading media activism and media literacy groups, or get in touch with Free Press, MAG-Net, or Women In Media & News.]

Guest blogger Jenn Ettinger is the media coordinator for Free Press, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media.

25 Responses to “Will the Comcast-NBC Merger Give You Diarrhea? Ask Liz Lemon!”

  1. chemical suppliers
    September 25th, 2013 00:49

    Hello there, simply changed into aware of your weblog via Google, and located that it is truly informative.

  2. chemical suppliers
    September 25th, 2013 00:55

    I have been brooding about in case your web host is OK?

  3. Una Hyldahl
    September 19th, 2015 12:30

    I gotta favorite this site it seems invaluable handy

  4. adam regiaba
    September 20th, 2015 22:27

    Maintain in touch whilst functioning from your own home workplace with out all with the hassle of purchasing or procurment costly office equipment. Debtors are allowed to apply with their a bad credit score background whenever.

  5. Mariam Caligari
    September 22nd, 2015 05:40

    I happen to be writing to let you know of the wonderful encounter my friend’s daughter undergone browsing your blog. She mastered a good number of pieces, not to mention how it is like to have an ideal giving character to get most people effortlessly know precisely selected hard to do topics. You truly surpassed visitors’ expectations. Thanks for displaying these informative, trustworthy, informative and cool guidance on the topic to Emily.

  6. %26%2332%3B%26%231575%3B%26%231604%3B%26%231585%3B%26%231610%3B%26%231575%3B%26%231590%3B
    October 1st, 2015 23:32

    I wish to express my respect for your generosity supporting men and women who require guidance on this one subject. Your unique commitment to obtaining the remedy all-around has been specifically important and have all the time produced those significantly like me to attain their objectives. Your wonderful essential recommendations implies significantly a person like me and a complete lot far more to my workplace workers. Greatest wishes; from each one of us.

  7. bespaartips op energie
    October 9th, 2015 00:43

    Yay google is my world beater assisted me to locate this excellent internet site! .

  8. Porn Movies
    October 11th, 2015 18:33

    Points i have seen in terms of computer memory could be the fact you can find technical specs such as SDRAM, DDR and several others, that should match the capabilities with the motherboard. If the individual computer’s motherboard is fairly current whilst you will find no operating-system issues, changing the memory literally takes under sixty minutes. It’s 1 of several easiest private computer upgrade techniques 1 can picture. Thanks for giving your ideas.

  9. books
    October 11th, 2015 19:54

    Thanks so considerably regarding giving me personally an update on this topic matter on your web site. Please know that if a completely new post becomes available or if possibly any improvements occur on the current submission, I would consider reading a great deal a lot more and learning how to make great use of those techniques you discuss. Thanks for your time and consideration of other men and women by generating this internet site available. holiday in cuba

  10. email me here rcomiskey@tshirtwonders.us
    November 13th, 2015 22:37

    wonderful work… Exceptional weblog here! Also your web site a great deal up fast! What web host are you the usage of? Can I get your associate link on your host? I want my site loaded up as quick as yours lol…

  11. vaillance courtage
    November 14th, 2015 22:45

    While you are any with the lucky enough choices, it comes evidently, even though capture the fancy of the particular coveted by ly folks other beneficial you you meet may possibly effectively have hard times this specific difficulty. pre owned awnings

  12. vermikompost uretimi
    November 14th, 2015 22:56

    Great post, you’ve got pointed out some excellent details , I besides believe this s a really amazing site.

  13. live work condo
    November 15th, 2015 19:46

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Many thanks, However I am experiencing issues with your RSS. I don’t understand why I am unable to join it. Is there anybody getting the same RSS issues? Anyone who knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanx!!|

  14. internet kazanclari
    November 16th, 2015 21:13

    Remarkably! It really is as in case you read my mind! A person appear to know therefore considerably relating to this, just like you authored the book inside it or something. I feel that you can do with a couple of images to drive the content material residence a bit, on top of that, this actually is excellent weblog. The outstanding study. I will certainly review once again.

  15. %26%231670%3B%26%231578%3B
    November 17th, 2015 23:16

    Hello - I must say, I’m impressed with your website. I had no trouble navigating by way of all the tabs and details was very simple to access. I located what I wanted in no time at all. Pretty awesome. Would appreciate it in case you add forums or something, it would be a perfect way for your clients to interact. Excellent job

  16. justin bieber tickets montreal
    January 9th, 2016 23:36

    I like this post, enjoyed this 1 appreciate it for putting up.

  17. ccc buty
    January 14th, 2016 06:15

    I gotta favorite this site it seems extremely beneficial .

  18. training ellipsentrainer
    January 18th, 2016 00:23

    The vacation delivers on offer are : believed a selection of some of the most selected and additionally budget-friendly global. Any of these lodgings tend to be really used along units may possibly accented by means of pretty shoreline supplying crystal-clear turbulent waters, concurrent with the Ocean. hotels packages

  19. o sureyi kaldir anani sikerim senin
    January 22nd, 2016 01:42

    Super diary! I in fact enjoy how it really is easygoing on my eyes and also the information are excellent scripted. I am questioning how I might be notified whenever a newborn post has been successful. I have signed to your rss feed which should make the trick! By!

  20. Dror Halevi
    January 28th, 2016 01:11

    Should you have just set up a page for your business, then it is time you do something about the �likes�. Online Faxing

  21. z getcare systems inc
    January 30th, 2016 14:53

    Be grateful you for spending time to speak about this, I think strongly about that and delight in reading read much more about this topic. Whenever possible, just like you become expertise, do you mind updating your web internet site with a whole lot a lot more details? It can be highly wonderful for me. Two thumb up in this article!

  22. probleme ordinateur chateaugiron
    February 24th, 2016 07:00

    I am in fact glad to glance at this website posts which consists of lots of helpful data, thanks for providing these kinds of data.|

  23. Bridging the digital divide? Comcast and media consolidation | GlobalComment
    February 24th, 2016 18:04

    […] So it is within the context of a post-Telecom Act world that the Essentials program is situated. The Essentials programs was actually required of Comcast by the FCC before approval was granted for the merger–which was one of the largest mergers in history between a content provider (Comcast) and a content producer (NBC). Jenn Ettinger at WIMN’s Voices explains what that means: The Comcast-NBC merger puts total control over production and distribution in the hands of one company. In a not so thinly veiled reference to the real-world merger, NBC’s “30 Rock” recently summarized precisely why this kind of top-down control is troubling: […]

  24. disabiled bathroom fitter sheffield
    March 21st, 2016 05:20

    Some truly quality blog posts on this web site , saved to my bookmarks .

  25. Ethan Diangelo
    March 6th, 2017 19:10

    A lot of thanks for all your efforts on this website. Betty delights in managing investigation and it’s really simple to grasp why. Most of us hear all regarding the powerful form you render practical tips and hints on this web site and as well as strongly encourage contribution from other people on that area of interest plus our favorite princess is really studying a lot of things. Take advantage of the remaining portion of the new year. You’re doing a stunning job.

Leave a Reply