At the recent Minority Media and Telecommunications Council Broadband and Social Justice Summit, David Cohen, Executive Vice President of the Comcast Corporation, received the Champion of Digital Equality award.
This award recognizes visionary leadership in promoting minority entrepreneurship, promoting access to capital, universal broadband access, adoption and informed use, diversity and success in America’s most important industries.
Brett Perkins, Comcast VP of External and Government Affairs, accepted the award on behalf of Cohen, who had a prior engagement. Cohen, however, in true tech forward style joined via video to share remarks.
“Although our engineers are innovating at the speed of light these days, they have not yet figured out how to allow me to be two places at the same time,” Cohen began. “But I’m deeply honored to receive, on the behalf of Comcast, MMTC’s Champion of Digital Equality award. Our respect for the work of MMTC runs deep. MMTC has long been a leader in recognizing the link between digital technology and social justice.”
Cohen, who heads up policy for Comcast is also the Chief Diversity Officer for the company. He was instrumental in the successful acquisition of NBC Universal. His involvement yielded several opportunities for increased diversity in business and programming.
Thanks to Cohen’s involvement Comcast will launch 10 new independent channels by 2019, including “Aspire” from Magic Johnson, REVOLT from Sean “Diddy” Combs and “El Rey” from Robert Rodriguez.
“Diversity is important across the varied communications platforms,” Cohen said. “This is a major step forward for our company, for diverse communities and most importantly, our customers who will soon benefit from this new programming.”
As chief diversity officer Cohen has also been key in the development of an external Joint Diversity Advisory Council. The council consists of national diverse leaders in business, entertainment, and civil rights. During his time as Chief Diversity Officer, Comcast has also appointed two new minority directors to the Comcast Board, and are focused on recruiting diverse talent.
One of the accomplishments MMTC and other industry insiders view as most impactful has been the Internet Essentials program. In fact, it’s become the model for a larger, industry-wide effort to subsidize broadband in low-income homes with school-aged children. Since its official announcement and launch in 2011, Comcast Internet Essentials has connected more than 400,000 Americans, or more than 100,000 families, to the Internet.
In his remarks to MMTC Cohen shared that, “About 30% of Americans, many of whom are living near or below poverty line, remain on wrong side of the digital divide. They possess little to no computer literacy, do not have broadband access at home and they do not own a home computer or some other device capable of supporting high-speed Internet use. And that’s the cruel irony of the digital divide.”
Cohen went on to explain the ‘cruel irony’:
“With the Internet we have the transformative technology that has the potential to level the playing field, but instead of equalizing opportunity the Internet is actually increasing disparities because of the broadband adoption gap. This is unacceptable to Comcast. This is unacceptable to MMTC. And I suggest to you it should be unacceptable to us as a country.”
Cohen points to Internet Essentials and it’s digital literacy programs as a solution.
“As the largest Internet provider in the United States, [Comcast] feels an obligation to make a substantial investment to narrow the broadband adoption gap.”