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Byron Allen Accuses Comcast, FCC of Violating NBCUniversal Merger Conditions

UPDATED: Byron Allen’s National Association of African-American Owned Media has accused Comcast of violating key terms of its agreement with the FCC that paved the way for its 2011 acquisition of NBCUniversal.

The org filed a petition with the FCC late Friday outlining its assertion that Comcast has not complied with its promise to launch multiple new cable channels owned at least in part by African-Americans within eight years of the merger. Comcast strongly denied the claims made in the petition, calling the allegations “inflammatory, inaccurate and unsupported.”

The petition challenges the significance of the African-American ownership interests in Aspire, which counts Magic Johnson among its investors, and Sean Combs’ Revolt channel. Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios and the NAAAOM have a lawsuit pending in federal court against Comcast charging racial discrimination in the cable giant’s failure to carry any of Entertainment Studios’ seven cable channels.

Aspire and Revolt were birthed in the wake of Comcast’s Memorandum of Understanding with the FCC that included a promise to launch two channels with African-American ownership within two years of the merger closing. Comcast pledged to add another two such channels within eight years of the merger closing, in addition to channels with Hispanic ownership as part of a total of 10 new independent channels by 2019. Comcast’s NBCU acquisition closed in January 2011 after a more than year-long regulatory review.

The NAAAOM’s petition singles out FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn for criticism, saying she failed to live up to her promise to scrutinize Comcast’s compliance regarding the minority-owned channels.

Entertainment Studios and NAAAOM also has a lawsuit pending against Charter Communications, which is in the final stages of the regulatory review of its acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. Entertainment Studios settled its action against DirecTV parent AT&T late last year.

Comcast released the below statement:

“Since NAAAOM’s frivolous lawsuit has gone nowhere, it is now trying the same string of inflammatory, inaccurate and unsupported allegations before the FCC. Just as a court has already once dismissed their case having found no plausible claim for relief, we believe this complaint is also completely without merit and will defend vigorously ourselves.

“Comcast is proud of our outstanding record supporting and fostering diverse programming, including programming from African-American owned and controlled cable channels. We currently carry more than 100 networks geared toward diverse audiences, including multiple networks owned or controlled by minorities.”

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