In January of this year, the Federal Communications Commission blessed the merger of Comcast, the nation’s largest cable and residential Internet provider, with NBC-Universal. The Justice Department immediately followed suit, removing the last obstacle to the unprecedented consolidation of media and Internet power in the hands of one company.
In response to this huge merger, Josh Silver, co-founder and former President/CEO of the Free Press posted an article in the Huffington Post exclaiming at the top of his lungs that we should be afraid and mad as hell.
Silver pointed out that the new NBC Comcast Corporation now controls an obscene number of media outlets, including the NBC broadcast network, numerous cable channels, two dozen local NBC and Telemundo stations, movie studios, online video portals, and the physical network that distributes that media content to millions of Americans through Internet and cable connections.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts called it “a proud and exciting day for Comcast. It was not a proud day for Danny Bakewell and the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Bakewell who is President of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and President and CEO of the Bakewell Company is now understanding the warning bell sounded by Mr. Silver and the Free Press.
July 1st, 2011, NBC News and Interactive One announced a partnership that will form the premier African-American digital news alliance with the widest audience reach in the industry. This reach will be carried out through NBC News’ TheGrio.com and Interactive One’s NewsOne.com. Both fall under the umbrella of NBC Comcast. NBC owns theGrio, and Comcast owns an interest in TVONE which owns NewsOne.com. TVONE is the brain child of RadioOne mogul, Cathy Hughes and her son Alfred Liggins who are African Americans.
Based on comScore measurement, the combined net audience of NewsOne and TheGrio was 2.1 million in May 2011, up from 661,500 in May 2010. As the online usage of Black Americans continues to grow, this digital alliance between TheGrio and NewsOne presents a new opportunity to better connect, inform and engage the African-American audience.
TheGrio.com, a division of NBC News, is a daily online news and opinion platform devoted to delivering stories and perspectives that reflect and affect African-American audiences. The video-centric interactive community is populated with both aggregated and original content on topics ranging from breaking news and politics to health, business, and entertainment.
Interactive One has more than 15 million members and reaches millions of Black Americans each month. With approximately 3 billion annual page views on its suite of sites, the company has become the definitive social network for Black America through BlackPlanet, as well as a number of leading content sites. These sites include: NewsOne (www.NewsOne.com), which provides up to the minute, comprehensive coverage of newsworthy events relevant to Black Americans across the country and the world; TheUrbanDaily (www.TheUrbanDaily.com), the eyes and ears for Black Americans looking for what’s hot online, on the airwaves, in theaters, and on the street; HelloBeautiful (www.HelloBeautiful.com), the definitive lifestyle resource for today’s Black woman; and Elev8 (www.Elev8.com) a site devoted to elevating the mind, body and spirit.
Interactive One was launched by Radio One in 2008 to complement Radio One’s existing portfolio of media companies targeting the African American community.
Although this relationship opens up the potential for co-marketing and promotional opportunities that includes Interactive One’s various digital assets such as Radio One’s 52 radio stations, TV One and Reach Media (Tom Joyner Morning Show), and the many platforms of NBC News, it pulls the rug out from an already struggling, near death Black newspaper business that got it’s start when John Russwurm along with a minister by the name of Samuel Cornish established the first African American newspaper, the Freedom’s Journal in 1827 in New York City. See One Way Ticket
Danny Bakewell made his feeling known recently when he confronted Comcast’s David Cohen at the 40th anniversary conference of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow coalition.
Cohen responded to Bakewell by indicating that the new NBC Comcast Corp has hired Burrell Advertising agency giving it $7 million to spend with Black newspapers.
You can listen to their exchange in the video above.
The bottom line? Cathy Hughes and her son along with their shareholders make out very well. Hopefully this means original programming of quality from TVONE. This in turn will give BET more competition. Even though we might see the extinction of the Black newspaper as it existed in a non digital format, it will be good to see better programming for the African American community.
Further, we won’t cry too much for Mr. Bakewell. Aside from being a community activist, Bakewell is a minority media owner and businessman. His most recent media acquisition is the purchase of WBOK Radio station in New Orleans, Louisiana, which adds to his family’s growing media holdings, which includes the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper, the oldest and the largest Black-owned newspaper on the West Coast and the recently named nation’s Number One Black Newspaper.
Also, as Chairman of the Bakewell Company, one of the largest African-American owned development companies in the United States, Mr. Bakewell brokers and heads multi-million dollar revitalization efforts in the cities of Los Angeles, Compton, Pasadena, and other California communities.
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Tags: Alfred Liggins, Brian Roberts, Burrell Ad Agency, Cathy Hughes, Danny Bakewell, David Cohen, Febone1960.net, Free Press, Interactive One, Jesse Jackson, John Russwurm, Josh Silver, National Newspaper Publishers Association, NBC Comcast Corporation, NBC News, NewsOne.com, Rainbow Coalition, Reach Media, Samuel Cornish, TheGrio.com, Tom Joyner Morning Show