Yahoo: Comcast, Al Sharpton Hit With $20 Billion Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Originally posted at Yahoo! Movies.

Even though the FCC hasn’t yet ruled on the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, one group has already filed a lawsuit claiming at least $20 billion in damages from the way the two giants allegedly discriminate against black-owned media.

The complaint, filed in California on Friday, comes from the National Association of African-American Owned Media, which also filed a similar suit against AT&T and DirecTV in December.

This time, the plaintiff is not only targeting both Comcast and TWC on the verge of what would be the largest pay television distributor in the United States, but also various African-American advocacy groups and MSNBC host Al Sharpton for allegedly facilitating discrimination.

Comcast is one of the biggest companies with a chief diversity officer and its practices have been lauded by many including Black Enterprise magazine, which recently named it as one of the 40 best companies for diversity. The lawsuit figures to face many hurdles from the sufficiency of its allegations to possibly the First Amendment, but for now, it presents the larger portrait of media company that isn’t carrying many fully-owned black channels and the dangers of allowing it to grow bigger.

According to the lawsuit, Comcast and TWC “collectively spend approximately $25 billion annually for the licensing of pay-television channels and advertising of their products and services, yet 100% African American–owned media receives less than $3 million per year.”

At the time of Comcast’s 2010 acquisition of NBCUniversal, Comcast entered into memoranda of understanding with the NAACP, the National Urban League and the National Action Network, but the lawsuit says the voluntary diversity agreements are “a sham, undertaken to whitewash Comcast’s discriminatory business practices.”

The plaintiff objects that the only fully owned black-channel picked up by Comcast is the Africa Channel, and that entity is owned by former Comcast/NBCU exec Paula Madison, who “was directly involved in putting together the sham MOUs and obtaining government approval for the Comcast acquisition of NBC Universal, thus creating a serious conflict of interest.”

Other black channels are said to be “window dressing,” with black celebrities as “fronts” when they are “white-owned businesses” that are run by friends or family of Comcast executives.

The lawsuit goes on to say that Comcast made large cash “donations” to obtain support for its acquisition. The money includes $3.8 million to Sharpton and his National Action Network. The money, it’s charged, was meant to pay Sharpton to endorse the NBCU deal and divert attention away from discrimination. As for Sharpton’s MSNBC gig, the complaint says, “Despite the notoriously low ratings that Sharpton’s show generates, Comcast has allowed Sharpton to maintain his hosting position for more than three years in exchange for Sharpton’s continued public support for Comcast on issues of diversity.”

As for support to the theory of discrimination in contracting, the lawsuit says Comcast has a “Jim Crow” process with respect to licensing black-owned channels, and that one Comcast exec stated, “We’re not trying to create any more Bob Johnsons,” referring to the founder of Black Entertainment Television.

The NAAAOM is suing along with Entertainment Studios Networks, which was founded by Byron Allen and now has a television operation with stations like “Justice Central” that reach 7.5 million consumers through deals with smaller pay TV distributors.

Representing the plaintiffs are Louis “Skip” Miller at Miller Barondess. The attorney has been a mainstay for many years on The Hollywood Reporter’s list of the 100 most powerful lawyers in the entertainment industry. Besides representing clients including Rod Stewart, Steven Tyler, Elton John and Bob Dylan, he also defended the city of Los Angeles in the Rodney King civil rights case.

We’ve reached out to Comcast and the National Action Network for comment.

Read more at at Yahoo! Movies.

 

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31 Comments

  • Bill Beveridge says:

    February 23, 2015 at 11:13 PM

    Why does a channel that is being racist in what it puts on TV or anywhere else, recieving any air time. There would be a lawsuit, so fast, if anyone tried having a White Televition channel or accused any Broadcasting company of Black washing anything. Come on, stop the nuisance suits.

    • Bodhisattva says:

      February 27, 2015 at 5:20 PM

      I’m just wondering why, if they’re so into supporting other blacks (itself a practice which has clearly crossed into blatantly discriminatory behavior), why did they hire a rich white lawyer?

      Perhaps the reason there are not any more black owned broadcast choices include, but may not be limited to:

      1) They don’t provide the content ANYONE wants to watch.
      2) The quality of their content is dismal.
      3) They’re too busy doing other things and not working at building media empires.
      4) Why slave away when the government will support you in exchange for perpetual Democrat votes?

  • Oliver Brady says:

    February 23, 2015 at 11:20 PM

    why does Al look like a deceased bobble head?

    • Cory says:

      February 24, 2015 at 10:11 AM

      Wait, your telling me that wasn’t a bobble head?

    • Bill says:

      February 24, 2015 at 10:30 AM

      He looks like a deceased bobble head because his brain has been dead all his adult life and he look anorexic. He is a loud mouth racist and if any white American went around to cities and stirred up anger and reaction the way he does, they would be arrested and imprisoned under the inciting riotous behavior laws.

  • Kellie says:

    February 23, 2015 at 11:25 PM

    Hey, Dinesh! Praying for you every day, brother. I have to say on this story, I would convict purely on the basis of that horrid shirt, tie, pocket square combination! Keep the faith!

  • Kathleen J Chansley says:

    February 23, 2015 at 11:34 PM

    Dinesh,
    Please keep the people of this country informed of what is honestly going on with the government of the United States. Some of us are increasingly worried and scared of where the country of our lives is going.

  • Richard says:

    February 24, 2015 at 1:01 AM

    NAACP , one of the biggest and the most racist organizations in the entire U.S. today is upset because there is not enough “Black Owned” channels? How freaking pathetic !

    • c says:

      February 24, 2015 at 6:57 AM

      Are you that stupid to believe the NAACP is racist? I’m so damn tired of seeing ignorant comments like yours and just passing then over. Look into the history of why the NAACP was formed. Black men, women and children were being murdered in a country they helped build and defend for being black. White men could hang black men and go home at night and sleep! People were murdered, their properties stolen, homes burned, churches bombed, beaten and killed by those that took an oath to protect and serve and you have the audacity to say..It’s a racist group??? Wealthy black landowners were killed…and this in the last century I’m not even talking about during slavery. So if a person speaks out…..they are racist. Ignorance and a blind eye has you speaking like that.

      • Mike says:

        February 24, 2015 at 2:47 PM

        Many organizations start and operate for good causes but so many get a taste for the money and lose sight of their original goals. I won’t dispute their right to exist but any organization that is classified as “black”, “Negro”, or “colored persons” perpetuates racial segregation. We and you especially should be looking at such organizations to see if they are really needed and if they are now doing more harm than good. There are too many like Al Sharpton that would be nobody if not for a perceived “racial” divide that they help perpetuate. As for me, I don’t believe skin color defines a different “race”. We are all fellow humans.

      • Bodhisattva says:

        February 27, 2015 at 5:27 PM

        What amazes me is that any student of history knows it was the Democrats who fought tooth and nail against civil rights and yet the Republicans are blamed for being racist.

        As for the NAACP, Mike summed it up pretty well – maybe back in 1909 an organization that fought for equality and fairness was needed. But they’ve suffered ‘mission creep’ and are now just as often on the wrong side of things. Demanding special treatment, reverse discrimination and indeed this lawsuit, all good examples of how it’s questionable whether organizations that blatantly advertise, in their names, that they’re racist and discriminatory.

        Imagine the hew and cry if a bunch of prominent white men got together and started the NAAWM (National Association for the Advancement of White Males), or even NAAWP (replace Males with People).

        Or change the W with an A (Asian) or J (Jewish). You can bet the Southern Poverty Law Center (another blatantly racist, bigoted organization) would be all over that.

  • Patrick says:

    February 24, 2015 at 2:40 AM

    The first two president of the NAACP were white.

    • Bodhisattva says:

      February 27, 2015 at 5:28 PM

      Big deal – there are lots of white racists and a half-white racist in the White House right now.

  • janet sharp says:

    February 24, 2015 at 6:48 AM

    My husband and I met Dinesh at a book signing .It was a lovely meeting , very cordial, and we were allowed to take as many photos as we wanted. I respect people that tell the truth and can backup the statements they make.So many times I think about how our government works for us ,yet we are afraid to openly have an opinion or say how we feel,for fear of some department or other in D.C. causing trouble for us. I hope Dinesh will have a wonderful life in America , and be free to to be himself and keep us all informed about what our government is trying to do against the people of this great country.

  • Clay Collier says:

    February 24, 2015 at 7:08 AM

    as just a high school graduate making well into six figures a year, I find it impossible to believe others can’t do the same. Set goals, then work to achieve them. It doesn’t fall from the sky, and luck has nothing to do with it. Hard work, patience, and never excepting mediocrity are the keys to success in my America.

  • j says:

    February 24, 2015 at 7:52 AM

    When there is WET (white entertainment television), Starz White, and other specifically named white networks I’ll care, until then, NEXT!

    • Lynnrmm says:

      February 24, 2015 at 1:57 PM

      Why is it that the Black community can have BET network and no one seems bothered by it or how about the Black Miss America contest that’s been going on for years …. if the whites had a white only channel or said White Miss America there would be an uprising like none other. And that is one of the reasons no one wants to take issue with the White House or specifically Obama because of so called racial hoopla …. I am so tired of that. I don’t really know what he professes to be But he clearly is not a Christian and he makes that as clear as he wants to So
      why shouldn’t Rudy Gulianni state what he feels ….. fair is fair.

  • Christina says:

    February 24, 2015 at 8:26 AM

    There will be only two results of this suit. Some black entertainment producers will get richer because the cable companies will settle out of court and carry their channels. Cable subscribers will have to pay increased rates for programming they don’t want, didn’t order, and won’t watch.

    Business as usual.

    • Bodhisattva says:

      February 27, 2015 at 5:30 PM

      And the already rich white lawyer will get a HUGE payday, too. Why did they hire a rich white guy? Why not some ‘person of color’, and female to boot? Or even better, some person with sex/gender confusion issues? Why not hire someone like that? Why a rich, well-adjusted white male?

  • Dave says:

    February 24, 2015 at 8:49 AM

    A reverend does reverend things. A criminal does criminal things. A pain-in-the-ass does pain-in-the-ass things.

  • Caren says:

    February 24, 2015 at 8:57 AM

    Why is there a magazine or tv channels specifically for Blacks? Talk about your racist and bigots. How about We the White people file discrimination charges against all these Black stations, magazines…….. Where is that equality the blacks DEMAND when they do this….?

  • Richard says:

    February 24, 2015 at 11:08 AM

    I truly don’t understand why anyone should be given any preferable treatment based solely on the color of their skin. NO MATTER what color they are. If these black owned stations produce multi-million dollar shows that are EQUALLY entertaining and liked EQUALLY by any color demographic then I imagine they would get the same respect as CBS, or NBC. The only color that truly matters in entertainment is green! Get over the hate. Nobody will give anyone a break because of their color. They will give you a break if it will benefit them in the wallet.

  • Jack C Crofoot, Jr. says:

    February 24, 2015 at 11:39 AM

    Has someone forgotten that Blacks only make up less than 13% of the American Population. And yet expect that everything be split down the middle. That is the real discrimination and people are just too afraid to afraid to say the truth for fear of being labeled racist.

    • Bodhisattva says:

      February 27, 2015 at 5:31 PM

      You said it, I second it.

  • hadi says:

    February 24, 2015 at 1:06 PM

    Who cares. Most businesses want nothing to do with black business owners. All Sharp ton no doubt caused this problem as he thought that blacks should be getting a cut on the lucrative merger. These companies do not have to consider outside sources. As a business owner, I would NOT allow any black businesses to merge with my company due to the fact that many of my fortune 500 distribution companies would drop me from their contracts. I do not hire minorities and I will not. All Sharpton places minorities in tough spots.

    • Jerry McClain says:

      February 24, 2015 at 9:56 PM

      I am glad that you don’t hire minorities, because they wouldn’t know they were working for a hater! Your hatred will be your downfall from grace! When it happens, you will remember the words of this email. Repent while you can! Father forgive him for he knows not what he is doing!

  • Randy says:

    February 24, 2015 at 1:54 PM

    This is what these networks deserves, having a degenerate like Al Sharpton working for them. If the truth be known, Al Sharpton motivated these organizations to sue his bosses to secure his job. I thought Sharpton was caught for tax avassion why has everyone else went to jail but him, is it because he’s a protected African. Oh wait a minute he’s not African he’s an American that we have to claimed is one of us…

  • sucre says:

    February 24, 2015 at 5:21 PM

    I closed my account with Comcast for using him on the air. He is a real jerk. He has done more damage to the African American community than good. Why would anybody listen to him is beside me. It burned my ass whenever, he use the word Latinos. The Jerk, he does not speak for me. I speak for myself. I came here with nothing and made something of myself on my own. I did not ask the Government for a penny. He is just as good as Obama. They are both good for nothing!!!!!!!

  • patrick jones says:

    February 24, 2015 at 11:36 PM

    yes….amazing how minorities wanna be the “same” as others and not singled out…thought of as the same as everyone else.. BUT suddenly we have different “associations” for colored people…didn’t think that term was pc now or this week? or the united (negro) college fund? congressional black caucus…black entertainment television…etc. half the people wanna be called african even with no background from there at all—and the others just black or some other term. i get confused about the current lingo used out there/every time i think i’ve got it down it’s changed and now wrong ha…sharpton/fake reverend just like cousin jesse—has only used that title for the most part to prob get tax advantages with these “organizations” or tax-exempt things they are involved in….they’ve both made a living out of stoking “racial problems” even when there wasn’t any real problems or evidence to support it. how would they have an income w/o chasing every potential discrimination situation, but of course always having time to show up at every black celeb funeral for “support” like james brown, whitney and others.

  • Jim says:

    February 25, 2015 at 11:48 AM

    Funny His picture does look like a bobble head..Al. whats up with the tie ???

  • WAYNEBIZ says:

    March 1, 2015 at 5:56 PM

    I am still wondering when Al Sharpton is going to join the other tax cheats in federal prison. If you or I owed millions in taxes they would confiscate everything I owned and then give me a prison jump suit. When does the BS stop???