×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Byron Allen’s Racial Discrimination Lawsuits Against Comcast and Charter to Proceed

Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios scored legal victories on Monday as a federal appellate court ruled that his racial discrimination lawsuits against Comcast and Charter Communications will proceed.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Pasadena, Calif., overturned a lower court’s decision to dismiss Allen’s claim against Comcast. The same three-judge panel also affirmed a lower court’s decision to deny Charter’s motion to dismiss Allen’s suit.

The rulings state that Allen has made a plausible case for racial discrimination being a factor in the separate decisions by Comcast and Charter to not carry any of Entertainment Studios’ suite of cable channels. Allen filed suit against Comcast in 2015 and against Charter in early 2016.

Allen’s suits are rooted in a post-Civil War law designed to help protect newly freed slaves from discrimination in pursuing business deals and contracts. Monday’s rulings do not address the merits of Entertainment Studios’ claims against the cable giants, only that there are enough plausible allegations in the suits to allow the litigation to continue through the courts. The appellate panel also ruled that the First Amendment claims exerted by Comcast and Charter as protecting their programming decisions were not sufficient to dismiss the cases outright.

Allen maintains that racial bias is a factor in Comcast and Charter’s longstanding decisions to not carry any of his entertainment and lifestyle channels. Allen filed a similar suit against AT&T that was settled in late 2015 when AT&T’s DirecTV picked up seven Entertainment Studios channels.

“Plaintiffs’ allegations regarding Charter’s treatment of Entertainment Studios, and its differing treatment of white-owned companies, are sufficient to state a viable claim,” Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. wrote in the Charter opinion. 

Comcast and Charter were critical of the decisions.

“We respectfully disagree with the Court’s decision, and are reviewing the decision and considering our options,” Comcast said in a statement. Charter had a more forceful response.

“This lawsuit is a desperate tactic that this programmer has used before with other distributors,” Charter said. “We are disappointed with today’s decision and will vigorously defend against these claims.”

Allen, who is founder, chairman and CEO of Entertainment Studios, hailed the rulings as “unprecedented and historic.”

“The lack of true economic inclusion for African-Americans will end with me, and these rulings show that I am unwavering in my commitment to achieving this long overdue goal,” Allen said.

More Biz

  • Tan FranceUnforgettable Gala, Inside, Los Angeles,

    'Queer Eye' Star Tan France to Host Audiobook Audie Awards

    “Queer Eye” resident style expert Tan France is taking on a slightly different project next month as he hosts the Audie Awards, which honors the best releases and achievements in audiobooks over the past 12 months. The ceremony, which takes place on March 4 in New York, is an annual event organized by the Audio [...]

  • Obit Obituary Placeholder

    Shelly Saltman, Former Fox Sports President and Promoter, Dies at 87

    Sheldon “Shelly” Saltman, the sports promoter behind the Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs tennis match and Evel Knievel’s Snake River Canyon jump, died Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 87. The original president of Fox Sports, Saltman started his career as a sports announcer before moving to promotions at media companies like the Gillette Cavalcade [...]

  • Arista Records, Mogul Vision Launch Joint

    Arista Records, Mogul Vision Launch Joint Venture

    Arista Records and Smokepurpp/ Lil Mosey manager Josh Marshall today announced the launch of Mogul Vision Music, a new joint venture label focused on “breaking extraordinary talent and building artist careers through innovative A&R, branding and marketing strategy,” according to the announcement. Based in New York with Marshall (pictured above left, with Massey) as its CEO, the [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Faces Prison, Career Ruin if He Lied About Attack

    Jussie Smollett is facing prison time and the implosion of his career if it turns out he lied about being the target of a hate crime, legal and public relations experts say. “The best thing that Jussie can do is pray and pray a lot,” said Ronn Torossian, founder of 5W Public Relations. “If he [...]

  • Gerrit Meier Variety Strictly Business Podcast

    Listen: Red Bull Practically Invented Branded Entertainment. What's Next?

    With memorable moves like sponsoring Felix Baumgartner’s jump from outer space in 2012 to achieve the world’s farthest ever-parachute drop, Red Bull has been a pioneering force in branded entertainment. While known best for its line of energy drinks, the beverage maker has eschewed traditional marketing for content that blurred the boundaries between advertising and [...]

  • Martin Bandier to Be Honored at

    Martin Bandier to Be Honored at Songwriters Hall of Fame Ceremony

    Martin Bandier, outgoing chairman and CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, will be awarded the Visionary Leadership Award at the 50 th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Dinner. The ceremony will take place on Thursday, June 13 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. According to the announcement, the Visionary Leadership Award “acknowledges a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame Board [...]

  • Hong Kong Disneyland Remains in the

    Hong Kong Disneyland Remains in the Red but Reduces Losses

    The Hong Kong Disneyland Resort theme park remained in the red for the fourth straight year, but there are signs of improvement. For the financial year to end-September 2018, HKDL reported $769 million (HK$6 billion) of revenue from 6.7 million visitors, an increase of 8%. Net losses fell from $32 million (HK$291 million) to $6.92 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content