Several cable MSO executives plan to visit Washington, D.C., this coming week
to meet with representatives from the Congressional Black Caucus in an effort to
alleviate concerns that the industry hasn't done enough to foster minority
ownership within cable-system and programming ranks, sources said.
While it's unclear which MSO or programming executives would attend, sources
said the 39-member CBC is prepared to take action if it doesn't like what it
hears from cable-industry leaders.
A National Cable & Telecommunications Association representative
confirmed plans for a March 12 meeting but could provide no other details. MSO
representatives could not be reached for comment at press time.
The March 12 meeting arises from a letter drafted in January by the caucus
that was addressed to several industry executives, including NCTA CEO Robert
Sachs, AOL Time Warner Inc. CEO Richard Parsons, Cox Communications Inc. CEO
James Robbins and Charter Communications Inc. CEO Carl Vogel.
Although the letter was never mailed, cable-industry lobbyists were apprised
of the nature of the correspondence and set up a meeting with the caucus,
according to sources close to the situation.
Spearheaded by Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the
letter expresses the CBC's disappointment in the "limited offerings in
African-American programming relative to the diversity of African-American
culture," as well as the decrease in African-American ownership of cable
properties, which has "never significantly expanded beyond the ownership of one
major cable channel."
The last reference was to Black Entertainment Television, which Viacom Inc.
bought in 2001.