Witness list for Los Angeles Comcast - NBC Universal hearing shaping up
The witness list for the House Judiciary Committee's hearing to be held Monday here in Los Angeles about the Comcast - NBC Universal deal is likely to include a mix of industry executives and academics, many of whom will raise concerns about the combination of the cable giant and the programming behemoth.
Although the committee chair is Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and he will be overseeing the hearing, the driving force behind is it Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.). Waters, who was particularly tough on NBC Universal about diversity in its prime-time programming during a hearing about the deal back in February, pushed Monday's event. She also asked that the Federal Communications Commission hold hearings on the merger outside of the Beltway. The agency said yes and announced Thursday it would do that in Chicago in July.
Among potential witnesses are producer Suzanne de Passe, Alex Nogales of the National Hispanic Media Coalition and writer and producer Reggie Hudlin, a former senior executive at BET who was also an executive producer of Cartoon Network's "The Boondocks" and more recently has directed episodes of ABC's "Modern Family" and NBC's "The Office."
Also likely to make appearances in support of Comcast are Frank Washington, chairman of Tower of Babel, which owns KBTV-TV Sacramento, a television station that Comcast carries on its cable systems there, and Will Griffin, a music and cable entrepreneur.
On the academic front, Sam Kang of the Greenlining Institute, a liberal think tank, is set to appear. Media watchdog Stanley Washington, chief executive of the National Coalition of African American Owned Media is also on the witness short list. Washington made waves earlier this year when he said that "for decades Comcast has shut the door to African American ownership of cable channels." Still up in the air is whether Alfred Liggins, head of TV One, which Comcast is an investor in, will appear.De Passe, a Hollywood veteran, said the committee had asked her about testifying because they are "exploring the impact of the deal on the independent community." Noting that there are few independent producers left, De Passe joked that "we're hanging by our fingernails."
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Rep. Maxine Waters. Credit: Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images