×

Charter Files Supreme Court Petition in Byron Allen Racial Discrimination Suit

Charter Communications has taken its fight in a racial discrimination suit filed by Byron Allen to the Supreme Court.

Charter on Friday filed a petition for the high court to review its appeal of the civil rights lawsuit Allen’s Entertainment Studios filed against the cable giant in 2016. Allen’s case rests on a post-Civil War era law designed to ensure African-Americans were treated equally with white citizens in their ability to force contracts. Allen maintains Charter, the nation’s second-largest cable operator behind Comcast, and other major distributors have violated that claim by refusing to carry the cable channels offered by Entertainment Studios, one of the few media companies that is wholly owned by an African-American.

Charter maintains that it did not discriminate on the basis of race in its decision not to carry Entertainment Studio’s suite of more than a dozen lifestyle cable channels including Comedy.tv, Pets.tv, Cars.tv and other niche-targeted outlets. At the same time, Charter also asserts that it has a First Amendment right to take racial matters into consideration when making editorial decisions, a claim designed to counter Allen’s legal argument and the federal Ninth Circuit appellate decision that overturned a lower court’s decision to dismiss Allen’s case.

Charter buttressed that claim with examples showing that racial considerations in editorial judgment are allowed by law. It cited such varied examples as Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway smash “Hamilton” and the website the Root.

“Just a few examples confirm that the Ninth Circuit’s purportedly bright-line pronouncement about the relationship between race and content is elusive and incoherent. ‘Invisible Man’ and ‘The Color Purple’ would be a very different books if they were written by white men. Or to use the Ninth Circuit’s own example, forcing a bookseller to include white or Asian authors would make a hash of an editorial decision to feature only books written by African American authors,” Charter stated in its filing. “The bookseller could make that race-conscious decision on the view that such authors have been underrepresented in the past and the bookstore’s mission is to promote such authors without regard to the substantive content of their works.”

Entertainment Studios has a similar suit pending against Comcast. The company reached a settlement in another suit against AT&T and its DirecTV unit in late 2015 when the satcaster picked up seven Entertainment Studios channels.

In a statement, Allen said he was “highly confident” that Entertainment Studios would prevail if the case is selected for review by the Supreme Court.

“Unfortunately, Brian Roberts of Comcast and Tom Rutledge of Spectrum/Charter have refused my offers to sit down to discuss these very serious matters. Now, we have no choice but to enter the discovery phase to depose all of their executives and business associates, as well as receive all of their correspondence/emails and contracts, to prove our cases in front of a jury,” Allen said.

“Every American, elected official, civil rights organization, and the Department of Justice should be offended that the largest cable companies in the U.S. pursued a legal defense that the First Amendment allowed them to discriminate against ANY American. Comcast’s and Charter’s shareholders and Board members should find this immoral, unacceptable, and be concerned that these companies will be held fully accountable because this has officially become very serious business.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Ballers HBO

    'Ballers' to End After Season 5 on HBO

    “Ballers” is coming to an end after five seasons on HBO. Star and executive producer Dwayne Johnson confirmed the news via an emotional Instagram video. “My heart is full of gratitude to all of you for rocking with us every season. You made us HBO’s highest rated comedy for years and most importantly, you helped [...]

  • Sublime Primetime

    How Emmy-Nominated Writers’ Rooms Keep Politics in Mind

    In a world filled with elections, social movements and national tragedies, how open should the doors of a writers’ room actually be? For some of this year’s Emmy-nominated shows, those doors are wide open. Before the 71st annual Primetime Emmy Awards air on Sept. 22, the Writers Guild of America West and Writers Guild Foundation, [...]

  • Disney Villains Series 'Book of Enchantment'

    'Book of Enchantment' Series Based on Iconic Disney Villains Shelved at Disney Plus

    Disney Plus has decided to not move forward with “Book of Enchantment,” a series based on some of Disney’s most iconic villains, Variety has learned from sources. The news comes the day before Disney is set to unveil its streaming service at the biannual D23 convention in Anaheim. The prospective project was based on the [...]

  • ITV STUDIOS PRESENTS VERAFILM 2Pictured: BRENDA

    Brenda Blethyn to Star in New ITV Sitcom 'Kate and Kolo'

    Oscar-nominated Brenda Blethyn is set to star in the new sitcom “Kate and Kolo” for ITV, the U.K. broadcaster announced at the Edinburgh TV Festival. Blethyn takes on the title role of Kate in the comedy alongside theater and film actor Jimmy Akingbola as Kolo. Blethyn is a popular star with ITV audiences after having [...]

  • Sean Spicer Emmys

    Sean Spicer's Casting Explained? Red States Love 'Dancing With the Stars'

    ABC faced backlash this week after casting former White House press secretary Sean Spicer on “Dancing with the Stars.” But that outrage might actually spice up the dancing competition’s dwindling ratings — particularly in Trump Country. “Dancing with the Stars” has faced a relatively alarming decline in ratings over the past two cycles, falling 32% [...]

  • Peppa Pig

    Hasbro Acquires Entertainment One in $4 Billion All-Cash Deal

    Toymaker Hasbro is acquiring studio Entertainment One in an all-cash transaction valued at $4 billion, bringing My Little Pony and Nerf under the same umbrella as “Peppa Pig” and “PJ Masks” and furthering Hasbro’s growth goals in the infant and preschool categories. Hasbro aims to expand its operations in film and TV. Entertainment One’s production [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content