"Thank you, Chairman Boucher for convening today's hearing to consider Comcast Corporation's proposed joint venture with the General Electric Company, the corporate parent of NBC Universal.
"The parties have argued in recent filings with the Federal Communications Commission (and, presumably, with the Department of Justice in forthcoming Hart-Scott-Rodino filings), that their union is a classic model of vertical integration, which advances key Congressional policy goals of diversity, localism, innovation and competition.
"To underscore their claims, Comcast and NBC have made a number of voluntary commitments. According to the parties, they say that their commitments will expand consumer choice, ensure over-the-air broadcasting, enhance programming opportunities, ensure competition on multiple content delivery platforms, and maintain NBC's journalistic independence as a provider of news.
"Unfortunately, what they have not said, what they have not committed to, and what is not making news is how this deal will promote meaningful opportunities for minorities to become FCC licensees and owners of communications and programming assets. How will minority viewers, existing minority licensees, and programmers be affected by this combination? How will minority suppliers and advertisers be integrated into the joint venture's procurement and purchasing channels? And, what will these two Fortune 100 companies do to ensure greater diversity in hiring and retention of minority employees at the management and non-management levels of the proposed joint venture?
"These are the types of integration and commitment to diversity to which I would hope that Comcast and GE would pay more attention and make further commitments.
"Although the potential rewards for the public are significant, the collective risks to minority inclusion and diversity, as this transaction is currently structured, are just as important. As we continue to discuss the merits and effects of this proposed combination in coming months, you can be assured that these will be my key areas of focus.
"I look forward to hearing the testimony and perspectives of our witnesses. Welcome to all of you.
"Thank you, Mr. Chairman----my good friend from the Commonwealth of Virginia. With that, I yield back the balance of my time."