Charter Communications Tried to Wiggle Out of a $10B Discrimination Lawsuit, Judge Ruled Case can Move Forward

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Comedian and CEO of Entertainment Studios Network Byron Allen.
Comedian and CEO of Entertainment Studios Network Byron Allen.

TV producer and CEO of Entertainment Studios Network (ESN) Byron Allen scored a victory in the courtroom Wednesday after a federal judge agreed to move forward with his $10 billion discrimination lawsuit against Charter Communications and its entities.

According to Deadline, Federal District Court Judge George Wu rejected the request from Charter Communications to throw out the discrimination suit filed by Allen and the National Association of African-American Owned Media in January.

The judge’s decision comes five months after communications giant Comcast was granted dismissal from a separate $20 billion suit filed by Allen’s company that also alleged racial discrimination, the news site reports. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is also named as a defendant in the suit.

“This lawsuit was filed to provide distribution and real economic inclusion for 100% African American-owned media,” Allen said. “The cable industry spends $70 billion a year licensing cable networks and 100% African American-owned media receives zero.”

The suit accused both the FCC and Charter Communications of locking Black-owned media companies like ESN out of contracts with TV channel carriers. It also alleged that Charter executives demonstrated racial bias that affected their decision-making, ColorLines reports.

“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 Skip Miller of Miller Barondess LLP in Los Angeles, who is serving as lead counsel on the case.

While ESN and the NAAAOM were able to squeeze out a victory this week, Deadline reports that the companies are planning to appeal the dismissal of their $20 billion discrimination suit against Comcast.

Allen has filed similar suits against communications companies in the past, like in 2014 when he submitted a discrimination complaint against AT&T. According to Colorlines, the suit was settled after subsidiary company DirecTV agreed to pick up seven ESN channels. A similar lawsuit against Time Warner is still pending.

“We will not stop until we achieve real economic inclusion for 100 percent African American-owned media,” Allen said.

 

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