Court Rules Allen Suit Vs. Charter Can Proceed

A Federal District Court judge rules against Charter Communications’ motion to dismiss a $10 billion lawsuit brought by Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios Networks.

Entertainment Studios claims that Charter is discriminating against its channels in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

Byron Allen

Byron Allen, founder and CEO of Entertainment Studios and the Allen Media Group (Image credit: Mark Reinertson for Future plc)

Judge George Wu said that Allen had met the requirements set for discrimination suits and that Entertainment Studios may proceed with pre-trial disclosures and begin discovery. 

Related: Comcast, Byron Allen Reach Accord on Carriage

“Charter once again tried to claim in a court of law that the First Amendment gives them the right to discriminate against Black people. This is a despicable, racist legal position, and I’m highly-confident Charter CEO Tom Rutledge and the Charter Board of Directors will be held fully accountable,” said Allen, the founder and CEO of Entertainment Studios and the Allen Media Group. “Charter will continue to lose this case, and I am going to make an example of them for all of America to see, because structural racism will not be tolerated. Systemic racism kills us in the schoolroom, kills us in the boardroom, and kills us in the courtroom, long before it kills us in the streets.” 

In a statement, Charter said that “promoting diversity and inclusion are core objectives across our company and a priority in our operations, including the products, services and the programming we offer. We regularly review the programming lineup to ensure our content appeals to our diverse audience. Charter offers programming services produced by minority-owned companies, including several owned by Byron Allen.”

Related: Charter to Invest $10M to Support Black-Owned Small Businesses

It added that “decisions on which networks to carry are based on business considerations, such as cost, quality, uniqueness of content, and customer demand. We are disappointed by this ruling, and stand by our position that race played no role whatsoever in our programming decision regarding these networks and we will continue to vigorously defend against these false claims.”

Allen had also sued Comcast in a case that reached the Supreme Court. That dispute ended in June with an agreement that called for the carriage of Allen-owned properties including The Weather Channel, Allen’s 14 TV stations and a host of other cable channels. 

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.