Judge Approves Byron Allen’s $10 Billion Discrimination Lawsuit

By Sameer Rao Oct 26, 2016

Comedian and Entertainment Studios Networks (ESN) CEO Byron Allen ("Comics Unleashed") scored a legal victory on Monday (October 24) when a federal judge permitted his $10 billion racial discrimination lawsuit against Charter Communications to continue.

Deadline reports that federal district court judge George Wu rejected Charter’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by ESN and the National Association of African-American Owned Media (NAAAOM). The suit, filed against the telecom company and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in January, alleges that the company freezes Black-owned media entities like ESN out of contracts for television channel carriers. The suit also says that Charter executives demonstrated racial bias that affected decision-making.

"Everybody talks about diversity, and everybody complains about the lack of diversity and economic inclusion," Allen said in a statement cited by Shadow and Act. "Today, we made history by doing something about it. This lawsuit was filed to provide distribution and real economic inclusion for 100 percent African American-owned media. The cable industry spends $70 billion a year licensing cable networks and 100 percent African American-owned media receives zero. This is completely unacceptable. We will not stop until we achieve real economic inclusion for 100 percent African American-owned media."

Allen filed similar suits against other telecom giants over the last few years, with mixed results. A 2014 discrimination complaint against AT&T was settled with subsidiary company DirecTV picking up seven ESN channels. ESN and the NAAAOM appealed the dismissal of a $20 billion complaint against Comcast, and a lawsuit against Time Warner Cable is pending.