The New York City Comptroller, Scott Stringer, is pressuring Comcast to settle its racial discrimination suit with Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios. New York City’s pension fund holds 9 million Comcast shares worth an estimated $423 million as of this past August.
“As long-term investors, we are concerned that even if — in fact, especially if — Comcast wins the day in the Supreme Court, it loses,” wrote Stringer in a statement originally shared by the New York Post. The Comptroller believes that Comcast will be seen as anti-civil rights if they win the lawsuit.
“There is significant potential for enduring damage to Comcast’s brand and reputation, as well as its relationships with shareholders, customers, suppliers, and federal, state and local governments, if the company’s name becomes synonymous with a court decision that impedes civil rights,” Stringer wrote in a letter Tuesday to Comcast Chairman and CEO, Brian Roberts.
Allen, the comedian-turned-TV mogul, runs the company Entertainment Studios and has controlling interests in the Weather Channel as well as several regional sports networks.
“First, I am very proud of New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer and would like to congratulate him for standing up and defending the civil rights of over 100 million minorities in America against Brian Roberts and Comcast”, Allen said in a press release. “As I have communicated from the beginning, I remain open and willing to meet with Brian Roberts to resolve this matter immediately – before millions of Americans suffer the loss of our oldest and one of our most important civil rights.”
Allen originally sued Comcast back in 2015 for a failure to take many of his lesser television networks like Cars.TV, Comedy.TV, Pets.TV and others, and put them in Comcast’s cable package. Allen claimed that Comcast has accepted lesser white networks in their packages, and the race was a factor that was considered in their decision.
The case was argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on November 13th. Allen claimed Comcast violated the Civil Rights Act of 1866, guaranteeing all citizens the right to make and enforce contracts similar to white citizens.
Comcast has sought to downplay the fears that their win will erode civil rights in the United States.
“Comcast believes that the civil-rights laws are an essential tool for protecting the rights of African-Americans and other diverse communities — and we do not want to see them changed or weakened in any way,” a Comcast spokesperson said in a statement. “This case will not do that.”
Groups like the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and other civil rights activists have said if Comcast wins this racial suit it will raise the burden of proof on victims suing for discrimination in the courts.