Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios, along with the National Association of African-American Owned Media, has filed a $20 billion discrimination lawsuit against Comcast, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Time Warner Cable and various African-American advocacy groups. The lawsuit alleges that Allen's production company has been denied opportunities to secure distribution on cable systems owned by Comcast and Time Warner.
"One hundred percent African-American-owned media has been shut out by Comcast," the lawsuit alleges. "Of the approximately $11 billion in channel-carriage fees that Comcast pays to license television channels each year, less than $3 million is paid to 100 percent African-American-owned media."
According to the lawsuit, Allen's production and distribution company, which consists of digital channels such as Justice Central, Cars.TV and Comedy.TV, has been denied distribution deals with Comcast and Time Warner Cable.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the lawsuit states that Comcast paid Sharpton and his National Action Network more than $3.8 million "in donations and as salary for the on-screen television-hosting position on MSNBC." Sharpton is paid $750,000 a year by NBCUniversal, the lawsuit said.
Sharpton, the NAACP and the Urban League were all named as defendants in the lawsuit because they've all received contributions from Comcast, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The lawsuit goes on to say that the black channels on Comcast are "fronts" and "white-owned businesses" that are actually run by friends or family members of Comcast executives.
In a statement to the Hollywood Reporter, Comcast basically scoffed at the lawsuit.
"We do not generally comment on pending litigation, but this complaint represents nothing more than a string of inflammatory, inaccurate and unsupported allegations," Comcast stated.
Sharpton's National Action Network told the Hollywood Reporter that the lawsuit is frivolous. "If, in fact, we were to be served, we would gladly defend our relationship with any company, as well as to state on the record why we found these discriminatory accusations made by said party to be less than credible and beneath the standards that we engage in."
NAN also stated, "As for Rev. Sharpton's TV-show ratings, the numbers are clear. Rev. Sharpton's show has the highest ratings of any 6 p.m. show in the history of the network."