Supreme Court Race Case -Byron Allen v. Comcast

By Tasha Poullard – TSU Herald News Editor | Opinions Contributor

Byron Allen is an American businessman, former comedian, television producer, philanthropist, and the founder, owner, chairman, and chief executive officer of the U.S. television production company Entertainment Studios.

“We’ve been positioned to fail. We were brought here to create wealth not have it, share it or be it.” says Byron Allen. As he conducts a sit-down interview with The Breakfast Club back in October of this year.

Byron Allen On Economic Inclusion, Buying The Weather Channel, Comcast Racial Bias Lawsuit + More check out 45:00 – 49:00 to understand how this case affects the 9th Circuit Ruling – and the Civil Rights Act of 1866 Section 1981

African American Media Mogul Byron Allen lays it out on the line. He breaks down what we call the 4 D’s of oppression for the Black community. Explaining how easy it is for those who hold the power and pull the strings over the nations economical purse are making sure that people of color have no stake in their brand and no say in their representation.

  1. They Dismiss You: This method of discrimination was first perfected on women – then used against African Americans breaking into arenas once ran by predominantly White males.
  2. They Discredit You: Meaning they question of the value that your brand adds, or if its even profitable. In many instances we’ve seen they’ll bring up your past and hold it against you in your present. Or try and find dirt on you that makes you look like an unreliable source.
  3. They Demonize You: They paint the picture of you being a “thug” or “criminal”. For African Americans we’re seen as violent or a threat to one’s physical person, as a means of refusing to do business with us.
  4. They Destroy You: Unnecessary court proceedings that bury you in a mound of debt. Character assassination and unfounded allegations that are tried in court as a means of ruining your reputation. Of they try and buy you out so that they can take the ‘shell’ of our business model and either reconfigure it to match their agenda, or they let it sit on the shelf and do nothing with it.

We were positioned to fail. We were brought here to create wealth, not have it, be it, nor share it” states Allen. Who breaks down how the schools are used as a weapon of mass destruction against the development of Black conscious thought. “The battle is not in the streets – its in the school room. Making sure we don’t get a proper eduction” says Allen.

Currently, Allen is using the Civil Rights Act of 1866, that was created to protect Black people from discriminatory business practices, to prove that Comcast and Charter were biased in his efforts to do business with them. In which (should the Supreme Court Side with Comcast and Charter) a loss in this case would lead to the high court dismantling the critical protections provided under Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, erase equal opportunity protections afforded under the Act. Some even believe that if Allen loses this case – it could possibly open the pandoras box for racial discrimination against people of color by slamming the door on a 150-year old law that has provided federal protection from systemic racism in business practices.

What’s Happening With The Case?

In Comcast Corp. v. National Association of African American-Owned Media (official name of the case), television personality and media entrepreneur Byron Allen alleges that (for eight years) his company, Entertainment Studios (ES), offered its channels to Comcast in order to secure distribution on the Comcast platform. Although Comcast said that ES’s channels were short-listed for carriage, the company refused to contract for distribution with Allen and ES – claiming that it lacked the capacity to launch additional channels. But Allen maintains it nonetheless launched more than 80 lesser-known, white-owned channels; while denying the launch of his. As a result – Allen sued Comcast after the company’s refusal to enter into a distribution contract with ES on the basis of racial discrimination, Using contracting under section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866. He lost at first! As a federal trial court dismissed his suit for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. But he then fought again in the Ninth Circuit federal intermediate appellate court, and won – reversing the decision and allowing Allen’s suit to proceed.

Charter Cable Company, also named in the Allen law suit is allegedly blocking Actor/Rapper Ice Cube from buying TV stations.

Back in 2018 – TMZ learned that LL Cool J joined forces with Ice Cube and a powerful group of investors looking to bid on 22 regional sports channels — including the YES Network — that Disney was being forced to sell off by the Justice Dept. Disney acquired the 22 stations as part of its $71 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox. But, officials believe that since Disney is already the majority owner of ESPN, controlling the 22 sports stations would make them a monopoly – and give them too much power in the sports TV landscape.

Some of the potential bidders that emerged were real heavy hitters that range from Magic Johnson, Will Smith, Snoop Dogg and Serena Williams to private equity titans like Apollo Global Management and Blackstone Group to the Sinclair Broadcast Group. To include investment bank Macquarie Group, private equity company Centerbridge Partners and Alex and Ani jewelry founder Carolyn Rafaelian. Forming “The Big 3”. The channels would be purchased from Disney that was looking to sell 21 channels for $10 billion. But! On April 12, 2019, The Big 3 released a statement that it has filed complaints with the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) and the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) against Charter (Disney) to have the FCC investigate if the company violated the carriage discrimination rules. The rule is in place to allow minority owners to compete in the auction. 

So Where Are We Now?!?!!

Comcast then petitioned the United States Supreme Court (with the assistance of the Department of Justice – Under Direction of President Trump) to hear oral arguments in the case that’s scheduled to take place which on November 13, 2019. The biggest issue is whether Comcast maintains that Allen must show that race was the motiving factor (or the “but for” cause) for Comcast’s decision to reject his channels. As Allen, the plaintiff – need only show that race was a motivating factor in the rejection (but not 100 percent the cause) because race being 100 percent the cause is nearly impossible. The reason why this case is bigger than just T.V. stations and is so important is because this statute protects the rights of billionaires like Allen, to include middle and working-class African-Americans to be free of racial discrimination in contracting. This includes everything from a cable distribution and employment contracts, or even an apartment lease agreements.

Comcast then petitioned the United States Supreme Court (with the assistance of the Department of Justice – Under Direction of President Trump) to hear oral arguments in the case that’s scheduled to take place which on November 13, 2019. The biggest issue is whether Comcast maintains that Allen must show that race was the motiving factor (or the “but for” cause) for Comcast’s decision to reject his channels. As Allen, the plaintiff – need only show that race was a motivating factor in the rejection (but not 100 percent the cause) because race being 100 percent the cause is nearly impossible. The reason why this case is bigger than just T.V. stations and is so important is because this statute protects the rights of billionaires like Allen, to include middle and working-class African-Americans to be free of racial discrimination in contracting. This includes everything from a cable distribution and employment contracts, or even an apartment lease agreements.

A Comcast victory would mean that it will be much harder for victims of race discrimination to sue employers, landlords and other businesses under section 1981 – because plaintiffs will be required to prove that racial discrimination was the only factor in any disputed contracting scenario. Placing additional obstacles in the path of victims of racial discrimination who want the opportunity to be heard in court. “Although the statute was enacted for the purpose of protecting African Americans in the wake of slavery, its prohibitions on racial discrimination applies to other racial and ethnic groups. And all other victims of racial discrimination will face a higher hurdle to having their claims heard in court.” Says Constitutional Law expert Melissa Murray in an interview with theGriot.com – “Stay Woke: NYU Law professor breaks down the urgency of Byron Allen’s Supreme Court case against Comcast

Author: poullard78