Supreme Court Rules Against Byron Allen In Discrimination Suit - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise magazine Fall 2019 issue

The Supreme Court has set a higher bar for Byron’ Allen’s $20 billion discrimination lawsuit against Comcast, ruling that Allen must prove racial bias was the sole reason the cable giant refusal to carry his TV channels.

In a unanimous ruling, the justices sent the case back to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider Allen’s claims in order for his lawsuit to proceed.

“We are pleased the Supreme Court unanimously restored certainty on the standard to bring and prove civil rights claims,” a rep for Comcast said in a statement Monday. “The well-established framework that has protected civil rights for decades continues. The nation’s civil rights laws have not changed with this ruling; they remain the same as before the case was filed.”

The situation stems from a 2016 lawsuit filed by Allen in which he accused Comcast of racial discrimination against Entertainment Studios Networks for refusing to carry ESN’s cable channels, which include Cars.TV and Pets.TV, because Allen is black.

Allen said despite the ruling he plans to keep fighting.

“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has rendered a ruling that is harmful to the civil rights of millions of Americans. This is a very bad day for our country,” Allen said in a statement. “We will continue our fight by going to Congress and the presidential candidates to revise the statute to overcome this decision by the United States Supreme Court, which significantly diminishes our civil rights.”

In 2018, Allen’s network purchased the Weather Channel. Late last year, New York City comptroller Scott Stringer, who owns $9 million worth of shares in Comcast, urged shareholders to settle with Allen. Stringer felt that if Comcast won the lawsuit it would be viewed as anti-discriminatory.

Earlier this month, Allen’s network purchased the Tegna Station Group, a Virginia-based company that covers territory across the nation. The company owns 52 stations in 61 markets, including an abundance of big-four network affiliates in many of the largest markets. In total, Tegna covers 39% of the country’s media channels.