June 11, 2019
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a $20 billion racial discrimination lawsuit filed by Byron Allen, CEO of Entertainment Studio and owner of The Weather Channel, against Comcast Cable.
Allen also co-owns with Sinclair Broadcast Group 21 regional sports networks acquired from Disney following its purchase of 20th Century Fox.
The suit, filed in 2015 by Allen and the National Association of African American Owned Media, alleged Comcast worked to keep black-owned media networks off its platform.
The suit was dismissed in federal court and then overturned last November by the Ninth Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Comcast, which appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, denies it has engaged in a discriminatory manner, saying it carries more than 100 networks targeting diverse audiences.
“We believe the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision was incorrectly decided,” Comcast said in a statement. “At this stage, the case is about a technical point of law that was decided in a novel way by the Ninth Circuit. We hope the Supreme Court will reverse the Ninth Circuit’s unusual interpretation of the law and bring this case to an end.”
Allen said Comcast upped its content diversity only after his litigation.
“This case is not about African American-themed programming, but is about African American ownership of networks,” said Allen. “Unfortunately, the networks Comcast refers to as ‘African American-owned’ are not wholly-owned by African Americans and did not get any carriage until I stood up and spoke out about this discrimination and economic exclusion.”