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Charter Donating $10 Million to Civil Rights Groups That Lobbied for Time Warner Cable Merger

Phillip Dampier June 18, 2020 Charter Spectrum, Competition, Consumer News, Public Policy & Gov't No Comments

Al Sharpton: Friend of Charter/Spectrum

During a period of renewed consciousness about the Black Lives Matter movement, many U.S. corporations are stepping up to donate money and resources to address what they call systemic racism. Charter Communications, which owns and operates Spectrum, is one such company.

The cable and broadband provider announced this week it was “investing $10 million” with the National Urban League and Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. The two civil rights groups coincidentally are long-standing recipients of Charter’s sponsorships and donations and are among the cable company’s best non-profit friends, reliably writing letters to regulators urging them to approve whatever is on the cable company’s agenda, including mergers and acquisitions, rolling back regulations, or blocking pro-consumer legislation.

Charter claimed in a press release its $10 million “investment” would help provide low-interest loans to businesses in underserved communities:

Charter’s Spectrum Community Investment Loan Fund (the Loan Fund) will invest $3 million in NUL’s community development financial institution (CDFI), the Urban Empowerment Fund (UEF), which will make individual loans to minority-owned small businesses and, under the direction of and on behalf of NAN, the Loan Fund will invest an additional $3 million in low-interest loans directly to CDFIs. In addition, Charter will provide $3.5 million in PSA value to promote its partners’ Loan Fund opportunities, and will contribute a $500,000 capacity grant to the NUL for revitalizing its CDFI platform including funding for staffing, infrastructure, and operations.

“In all communities, small business ownership and growth are fundamental to developing and sustaining economic power, which is critical to their long-term success,” said Tom Rutledge, chairman and CEO of Charter Communications. “Building on our valued partnerships with the National Urban League and National Action Network, these investments will support small diverse-owned businesses through access to much-needed low-interest capital and help build thriving communities across the country.”

The contributions might also be seen as “returning the favor” for the groups’ work on behalf of Charter’s 2016 merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. Both non-profit groups were instrumental in contacting state and federal regulators, urging them to approve that merger that proved unpopular with many consumers.

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