On, then off and now on again, the massive discrimination lawsuit from the Byron Allen-founded Entertainment Studios Network and the National Association of African-American Owned Media is “ludicrous slander,” Comcast says, and should again be dismissed.
“Rather than addressing the concerns raised by this Court and alleging facts to support their claim of race discrimination and demand for twenty billion dollars in damages, Plaintiffs continue to peddle the offensive and utterly implausible theory that Comcast conspired with respected civil rights organizations and federal officials to systematically discriminate against African Americans,” reads the October 21 motion (read it here) to see the $20 billion case dropped.
The mega media company’s latest attempt to get this case tossed comes just a month after the plaintiffs filed a first amended complaint September 21. With Time Warner Cable, Al Sharpton and the NAACP also named as defendants, the case originally was filed February 23, then dismissed by U.S. District Judge Terry Hatter Jr. on August 7, and then revived by him on August 19. No longer merging with Comcast, TWC was dismissed as a defendant from the case this week. Sharpton and his National Action Network were dropped from the case in September, as were the NAACP and the Urban League.
Similar to the case that ESN and the NAAAOM also have going against the now-merged AT&T and DirecTV, the gist of the matter against Comcast is that plaintiffs claim the defendants discriminate against totally African-American-owned media companies and deny them carriage placement. As they have before, Comcast aggressively denies that and says “the FAC confirms that this case is nothing more than a publicity stunt.”
“Plaintiffs still allege no facts that would plausibly explain why Comcast would welcome business partners owned or controlled substantially by African-Americans (and focused on African-American programming), but not “100%” by African-Americans, if its carriage decisions were based on race rather than legitimate business concerns,” a memorandum accompanying the motion asserts.
It goes further, adding, “Plaintiffs are using this Court’s docket as a vehicle for ESN’s owner, Byron Allen, to spew rhetoric against President Obama, respected civil rights organizations, and Allen’s other perceived enemies.” Comcast asked for a December 28 hearing on their motion in downtown L.A. And, if history of this case is any guideline, expect to hear loudly from the plaintiffs before then too.
A team of attorneys from Gibson Dunn and Crutcher LLP are representing Comcast. Louis “Skip” Miller’s Miller Barondess LLP are representing ESN and NAAAOM in the matter.