Comcast and Time Warner Cable are facing a suit by Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios and the National Association of African-American Owned Media. Allen and the organization are alleging discriminatory practices against black-owned media companies. The suit is also targeting Al Sharpton, as well as other African-American activist groups including the National Urban League and the NAACP, claiming $20 billion in damages.
[Related: LISTEN BELOW: Byron Allen Talks Why He’s Taking Comcast to Task]
According to The Los Angeles Times, the suit claims that “100% African-American owned media has been shut out by Comcast,” including Allen’s Entertainment Studios Networks. The suit also alleges that Comcast made cash “donations,” including $3.8 million to Sharpton and his National Action Network, to gain support for its acquisition of NBC Universal and “divert attention away from discrimination.”.
The plaintiffs also indicate in the suit that the few black channels that are carried by Comcast are only fronted by black celebrities and are actually “white-owned businesses” run by friends and family of Comcast executives, including the only “fully” black-owned Africa Channel, which is owned by Comcast/MBCU executive Paula Madison.
In statements made to The Hollywood Reporter, Sharpton says he “welcomes the opportunity to answer the frivolous allegations,” and plans to counter-sue for defamation.
While the National Action Network has yet to be officially served papers, a spokesperson has stated that they “would gladly defend [their] relationship with any company as well as to state on the record why we found these discriminatory accusations made by said party to be less than credible and beneath the standards that we engage in.” Comcast also calls the allegations “inflammatory, inaccurate, and unsupported,” and adds that they have “engaged in good-faith negotiations with this programmer [Entertainment Studios] for many years…[but] will defend vigorously against the scurrilous allegations in this complaint.”