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Comcast Begins Search For Minority Networks

4/04/2011 12:05 AM Eastern

Comcast Corp. will begin the process of adding 10 new independent, minority-owned and operated channels by soliciting proposals from Hispanic and African-American networks.

As part of its merger agreement with NBC Universal, Comcast pledged it would launch 10 new independent channels over the next eight years, including eight that are Hispanic- and African-American owned or operated. Comcast officials are now accepting proposals for the first three. The first, a channel that is "American Latino operated and programmed in English" -- will launch by July 28, 2012.

The other two will be majority African-American-owned and will launch by January 28, 2013. A suite of six 24-hour HD cable networks owned by African-American comedian Byron Allen and HBCU Net -- a 24-hour network featuring content from Historically Black College and Universities headed by former BET executive Curtis Symonds - are among the networks that could vie for those slots.

Of the 10 channels, four will be majority African-American owned, two will be majority Hispanic-owned and two will be operated by American Latino programmers. Each of the 10 networks will be added on select Comcast systems as part of the MSO's D1 digital tier.

"Comcast is committed to providing opportunities for diverse businesses to expand and grow," said David Jensen, vice president of content acquisition for Comcast in a statement. "We look forward to considering a number of fresh and viable programming proposals from Hispanic and African-American programmers to create new channels that will complement the robust lineup of programming choices we already offer our customers."

As part of its commitment, Comcast last week said it would expand carriage of Asian-themed network Mnet to four major markets, including Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif.

Comcast officials said proposals for the channels are due by May 31. The MSO added that it has set up a website -- www.comcast.com/diversityproposal/ -- for those interested in learning about the terms and conditions of the channel submissions. 

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