Comcast will be dropping the TV channel Fuse as of the new year, prompting an angry statement from the network’s CEO that the cable provider is “silencing yet another independent media company.”
Fuse — the cable channel partly owned by Jennifer Lopez that is dedicated largely to music, as well as comedy and culture — is at risk of losing approximately a third of its household reach by losing Comcast, the country’s top cable and broadband provider. Michael Schwimmer, CEO and President of Fuse Media, criticized Comcast for doing so against the company’s “publicly-stated commitment to support diverse and independently operated networks.”
“This decision is both surprising and troubling considering that Fuse met Comcast’s financial demands and no other requirements were ever communicated to us,” Schwimmer said in a statement.
“We have been dedicated from the very beginning to providing opportunities for diverse creative talent to entertain and inform diverse communities,” Schwimmer’s statement continued. “By removing our network from its consumer offering, Comcast is silencing yet another independent media company, in this case one that is devoted to providing a platform for inclusive voices and authentic representation at a uniquely important time in our society.”
A rep for Comcast didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Schwimmer also pointed to the recently expired consent decree that Comcast agreed to with the U.S. Department of Justice in exchange for approval of the company’s purchase of NBCUniversal in 2011. The decree required Comcast to operate under behavioral restrictions and the oversight of the DoJ for seven years, but that decree expired this past fall.
Fuse’s loss of Comcast comes as TV providers face pressure to cut down on under-performing niche channels in their lineups to reduce the costs that are driving customers to streaming services and online channel bundles like Netflix, Hulu and YouTubeTV.