Analysis released of Chicago forum comments on Comcast/NBC Universal proposed merger

Posted by Mitchell - November 15, 2010 (entry 664)

November 15, 2010

Mitchell Szczepanczyk (Chicago Media Action)


Scott Sanders (Chicago Media Action)


Analysis released of Chicago forum comments on Comcast/NBC Universal proposed merger

Only eight pro-Comcast speakers mentioned the merger at all; no merger-related reasons put on the record.

The Federal Communications Commission held a public forum in Chicago on July 13, 2010, on the proposed merger of Comcast and NBC Universal, which included a public comment period for members of the public. Chicago Media Action analyzed the comments delivered by 69 commenters in that comment period and has released the results of that analysis. Among the key findings:

* Only eight persons who commented specifically approved the proposed Comcast/NBC Universal merger.

* None of those who spoke approvingly of Comcast mentioned any reasons relevant to the proposed merger in favor of it; the only reasons offered were discursions to the question of the merger, mostly by Chicago-area nonprofit organizations who received Comcast support.

* 34 commenters offered a wide range of criticism and concerns of the proposed merger, and represented a more diverse set of concerned groups and individuals.

"What's particularly stunning about the comments in support of the proposed merger is how fundamentally monolithic they are. No reasons aside from 'Comcast is great' was publicly mentioned." said Mitchell Szczepanczyk of Chicago Media Action and lead author of the analysis. "The Chicago forum held in July might be the only forum held over this $28 billion merger proposal, so you would think that Comcast would offer as many reasons as possible to support the merger. Instead, Comcast repeatedly swung and missed."

Chicago Media Action's Scott Sanders adds: "Clearly, there is no genuine public support for this proposed merger, as this analysis shows. We need to have relief if this loathsome merger is approved. Perhaps the best suggestion for relief announced thus far is the plan put forth by the Writers Guild of America East in a recent letter." The letter calls for the assessment of a $100 million merger fee to Comcast payable over ten years for "thoughtful, independent, well-researched public affairs programs" created "either through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting or another entity to be established for this purpose".

The analysis is available online at

ABOUT CHICAGO MEDIA ACTION. Chicago Media Action (CMA) is a Chicago area-group dedicated to analyzing and broadening Chicago's major media and to building Chicago's independent media. In 2004, CMA issued a widely-covered study of bias on WTTW's nightly news show, "Chicago Tonight" and in 2005 CMA was the lead actor of an FCC licence challenge against nine Chicago-area TV stations (a challenge in its fourth appeal before the FCC). For more information about CMA, visit

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