Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios Files $10 Billion Discrimination Lawsuit Against Charter Communications, FCC

Byron Allen
Courtesy of Entertainment Studios

Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios has filed a $10 billion racial discrimination lawsuit against Charter Communications and the Federal Communications Commission.

The suit, similar to earlier complaints filed against Comcast and AT&T, claim that Charter has shown racial bias in its refusal to carry channels offered by Entertainment Studios, the company owned by comedian-turned-entrepreneur Allen. The latest suit maintains that the FCC facilitates discriminatory activity by approving mega mergers such as the 2011 union of Comcast and NBCUniversal, which makes it harder for African-American-owned independent companies to compete.

“The FCC works hand-in-hand with these merging television distribution companies to enable and facilitate their Civil Rights violations,” the complaint states. “The FCC’s apparent standard operating procedure is to obtain and accept sham diversity commitments from merger applicants, in excess of its statutory duties.”

Allen’s complaints also take aim once again at other African-American figures including Rev. Al Sharpton, calling him a “token” whose endorsement of merger deals is bought off by donations from big media companies to his National Action Network. Critics say Allen is playing the race card to gain advantage in business that his lifestyle and entertainment channels would otherwise not warrant from large distributors.

The complaint, filed Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles, details Allen’s attempts to meet with Charter CEO Tom Rutledge and other execs. The timing of the suit is clearly an effort to exert pressure as the FCC is in the final stages of its review of Charter’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable. Allen protested TW Cable’s now-scuttled merger agreement with Comcast on the same grounds.

This is a desperate tactic that this programmer has used before with other distributors,” Charter said in a statement.

Last month, Allen settled his lawsuit against AT&T at the same time that the telco giant added seven Entertainment Studios-owned channels to DirecTV’s lineup. AT&T was also vulnerable to PR pressure last year as it sought to close its $48 billion takeover of DirecTV.

Earlier this month, Charter outlined its pledge to increase diversity in the ranks of its 23,000 employees in a memorandum of understanding inked with six national advocacy orgs, including Sharpton’s National Action Network, the Urban League and the National Council of La Raza. The commitments include the appointment of three board members who are African-American, Hispanic and Asian-American within two years of the closing of the Time Warner Cable acquisition and the appointment of a chief diversity officer.

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  1. Fairfax High says:

    Byron Allen ( real name is Byron Folks), has always been a first class, back stabbing jerk. A third rate comic, and a creepy momma’s boy( See Carolyn Folks). He is basically like an OJ Simpson without the murder. Playing the race card to extort money, and force Direct Tv and At@t to carry his miserable out-dated shows. He has never been concerned about the “African American community”, and probably never set foot in the community. It was particularly offensive when Allen called president Obama, “A White President in Black face”. Who the F##K are you Pal ? How many black executive’s and decision makers are in your company ? Allen should take a good look at himself, and the way he moves and operates in the world. It’s very low rent. I really hope the FCC and Charter Communications vigorously fight this racial discrimination law suit. The truth of the matter is that Allen can’t accept the fact some of these company executives are not interested in meeting with him, or carrying his sub-par shows. Allen has had every opportunity to create quality programming, but is too darn cheap. If he were to do so, he may find more major and cable networks interested in his product, and not just put him on in the wee-hours of the morning. Now in fairness, of course we need diversity in television programing and in minority ownership. But not this way, and not from Byron Allen.

  2. Chan says:

    Love Byron and his big set of black brass balls!

  3. TheBigBangof20thCenturyPopCulture says:

    This is a major headline story almost as big as the oscar snub. So why was it buried in the listings?

  4. TheBigBangof20thCenturyPopCulture says:

    He has a good case. Good luck to him. I’ve always found Allen’s celebrity interview and media content promotion shows entertaining and informative. If the big conglomerates can’t carry his product which is both inclusive and diverse, there must be a monopoly divestment behind it as well as business bias.

  5. Amy W. says:

    I support the African American and Hispanic cause. I want an equal business arena for all people. I think what Mr. Allen is doing is brave and historic

  6. HollywoodHallie says:

    Byron we salute you

  7. DocMeadow says:

    I know his content isn’t pristine — and it’s no Walking Dead — but there is a place for all kinds of content in the distribution realm. You know it’s got to be bad if Mr. Allen had to resort to these kinds of measures to get his voice heard

  8. TubaPlayer42 says:

    Go Byron!

  9. Carl Says says:

    It’s sad that we live in a world where race is still an issue. Unfortunately, I think that history skewed the scales in favor of whites and we are still feeling that imbalance today. I am proud to have Byron speak out on behalf of black business owners in Hollywood

  10. MegaMolly says:

    Down with Sharpton! Byron leads the charge

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