A federal judge today rejected a bid by Charter Communications to toss out a $10B racial discrimination lawsuit filed by Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios and the National Association of African-American Owned Media for “racial discrimination in contracting for television channel carriage.” The move comes five months after Comcast was granted dismissal from a separate $20B racial discrimination suit filed by Allen’s company in early 2015.
“Defendant presents a two-pronged argument for why Plaintiff’s claim should … be dismissed,” Federal District Court Judge George Wu wrote today. “First, it argues that Plaintiffs have not eliminated — indeed, the FAC reveals — the possibility that the reasons for Defendant’s refusal to contract were not race-based at all, but were due to legitimate business considerations. Second, somewhat linked to that first argument, Defendant asserts that Plaintiff is required to demonstrate not just that racial animus was one contributing fact.”
The FCC also is a defendant in the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs’ lead counsel, Skip Miller of Miller Barondess LLP in Los Angeles, said today: “We have evidence of racial bias harbored by top level Charter executives with decision-making authority, and allege, in detail, the discriminatory treatment ESN suffered at the hands of these executives.” Said Allen: “This lawsuit was filed to provide distribution and real economic inclusion for 100% African American-owned media. The cable industry spends $70 billion a year licensing cable networks and 100% African American-owned media receives zero.”
Entertainment Studios and the NAAAOM are appealing the dismissal of their $20B suit against Comcast.