By CultureBanx Team
- The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Byron Allen’s $20B racial bias lawsuit
- There are 50 pay-TV operators that already distribute Allen’s content to 80M subscribers
Comedian and media mogul Byron Allen has officially put Comcast on notice, now that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear his $20 billion racial bias lawsuit. Comcast (CMCSA +1.49%) and Charter Communications (CHTR +0.61%) cable distribution reaches about 36 million subscribers and they’ve been blocking Allen from getting access to them. As one of the few black owned media companies, will the highest court in the land put an end to the refusal to carry his slate of channels?
Why This Matters: This is more than a case of racial bias, rather one of civil rights, which is why he’s seeking $20 billion. Allen’s hoping that under the umbrella of a Reconstruction-era civil rights law, that says companies can’t discriminate based on race in business contracts, he’ll put a stop to the dismissive nature of these cable companies. His Entertainment Studios media empire consists of 43 syndicated television series, eight cable networks, The Weather Channel, and a movie studio. Currently, there are 50 pay-TV operators that already distribute its content including Verizon Fios, DirecTV, RCN and Suddenlink to 80 million subscribers.
Allen’s Entertainment Studios consists of 43 syndicated television series, eight cable networks, The Weather Channel, and a movie studio
Comcast and Charter claim their decisions to not carry his channels were based on capacity constraints, not race. The cable giants asserted that Allen’s JusticeCentral.TV, Cars.TV, Pets.TV and Comedy.TV, didn’t deserve distribution because the promise of customer demand wasn’t there. Also, the suit claims Comcast launched 80 networks that were newer and “white-owned” during the years that it was telling Entertainment Studios it lacked the capacity to take on more channels.
There are additional inflammatory claims in the suit like a Comcast executive told someone at Allen’s company, that “we’re not trying to create any more Bob Johnson’s.” Johnson created Black Entertainment Television (BET), and later sold it to Viacom for $3 billion nearly two decades ago.
Situational Awareness: The U.S. Supreme Court chose not to act in the appeal by Charter Communications with similar claims by Allen, after the company also declined to carry his channels. It’s possible that the Charter case is likely to reflect a mirror outcome to the decision reached in the Comcast appeal.
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