Free Press believes that General Electric was less than successful when it promised it would increase the amount of local news programming on its Spanish-language Telemundo O&Os. In fact says the exact opposite was done. Now the watchdog is claiming that new lead owner Comcast isn’t doing enough, quickly enough, to right the situation.
Free Press is taking advantage of the reporting conditions that were part of the FCC approval package for the joint venture between Comcast and NBCUniversal, which brought the 25-station NBC broadcast group under Comcast’s stewardship. It has done a report on the company’s first quarter of ownership called “No News Is Bad News: An Analysis of Comcast-NBC Universal Compliance with FCC Localism Conditions.”
Free Press’s Corie Wright, pictured, said, “The report shows how media consolidation and empty commitments hurt local communities. NBC Universal bought Telemundo back in 2002, pledging to increase local news for Spanish-speaking audiences. But it did just the opposite and cut local jobs and journalism. The current local news numbers for Telemundo stations reflect those broken NBC Universal promises.”
Wright added, “Comcast has an opportunity to compensate Telemundo audiences for years of diminished service – but it has a long way to go. We intend to hold Comcast accountable for its local news commitment and make sure that history isn’t repeated this time around.”
Among many other things, Free Press says NBC O&Os benefit from four and three-quarter hours of daily local news programming, whereas Telemundo O&Os get an average of only 48 minutes. And Telemundo stations in Boston and Denver are said to have no local news at all.
Free Press also found grounds to criticize Comcast’s report on its local news in general, noting that it failed to describe programs reported as local offerings, and that it counted 1,000 hours worth of commercials in its tally of time spend broadcasting local news programming.
“All communities deserve better local news programming,” Wright concluded. “We challenge Comcast to go above and beyond its merger commitment and provide Spanish-speaking audiences with the local news programming they need and deserve.”