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#Byron Allen settles racial discrimination lawsuit with Comcast

#Byron Allen settles racial discrimination lawsuit with Comcast

June 11, 2020 | 3:00pm

Comedian-turned-media mogul, Byron Allen and Comcast settled their long-running racial discrimination lawsuit that went all the way to the Supreme Court  over the cable giant’s decision to not air Allen’s cable channels.

On Thursday, Comcast agreed to carry three of Allen’s seven cable channels — Comedy.TV, Recipe.TV and JusticeCentral.TV. The pact also amended the terms of Comcast’s existing deal to carry Weather Channel, which Allen’s company acquired in 2018, as well as new terms for 14 local TV stations that Allen Media Group acquired over the past few months. Deal terms were not disclosed.

“We are very happy with the deal and we look forward to a mutually rewarding long-term relationship,” said Allen, who declined to provide further detail. A rep for Comcast echoed Allen’s sentiment, but declined to comment further.

The deal puts an end to a volatile legal brawl between the two parties.

Allen filed a $20 billion lawsuit against the cable giant in 2015, claiming race was a factor in Comcast’s refusal to air channels from his Entertainment Studios Network, citing Comcast’s decision to carry white-owned channels with similar-size audiences.

Comcast said it rejected Allen’s portfolio of seven niche channels, which includes the Weather Channel, due to low viewership. The racial bias case moved to the Supreme Court last year, and on March 23, the justices ruled unanimously that Allen had to meet a higher threshold for the case to proceed in lower court.

In their opinion, the justices wrote that “a plaintiff must initially plead and ultimately prove that, but for race, it would not have suffered the loss of a legally protected right” — a high bar to clear. Following the ruling, Allen’s case was slated to go back to the lower court, but he had a higher threshold of proof, following the Supreme Court’s decision.

Nonetheless, the high-profile litigation against a prominent African American media entrepreneur has become a p.r. nightmare for Comcast, particularly at a time of heightened sensitivity to racial justice concerns.

But, a person familiar with case told The Post that Allen and Comcast had been in talks before the Supreme Court decision.

“The agreement was a culmination of discussions that happened well before the Supreme Court decision came out,” the source said, brushing off questions over whether the timing of the deal was expedited as the country is ensnared in protests that began on May 26 over the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police.

“Both sides just wanted to move on,” the source said of the costly legal battle.

Allen currently has a lot on his plate with a $10 billion lawsuit pending against cable giant Charter Communications, as well as the potential acquisition of TV station owner Tegna. The Post exclusively reported in March that Allen is making a run at Tegna, which is valued at $3.5 billion.

Allen’s bid of $20 a share is one of many offers, but sale talks have stalled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.


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