Byron Allen, founder and CEO of Entertainment Studios Network (ESN) has lost his Supreme Court battle with Comcast. According to Black Enterprise, in February 2015, his company filed a $20 billion racial discrimination lawsuit against the cable giant. Still, the Supreme Court has ruled in a unanimous decision that Allen was not able to prove that Comcast’s decision not to carry his channels was because of race.
Comcast is the largest cable TV company and home Internet service provider in the United States. They are supposedly committed to diversity, but they refused to carry ESN’s channels, which mostly concentrate on African-American targeted programming. Comcast cited lack of programming demand, bandwidth constraints, and a preference for programming not offered by ESN.
ESN, which owns The Weather Channel and many other channels, first appeared before the District Court in Washington, DC, and the case was dismissed. However, that decision was later reversed by the Ninth Circuit, which held that ESN just needed to show plausible facts proving that race was a factor in the way decisions were made at Comcast. The case was later escalated to the Supreme Court but has now been dismissed, which pushes the case back to the lower court.
“This is a very bad day for our country,” Allen said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has rendered a ruling that is harmful to the civil rights of millions of Americans.”
“We will continue our fight by going to Congress and the presidential candidates to revise the statute to overcome this decision by the United States Supreme Court, which significantly diminishes our civil rights,” he continued.
Executives at Comcast are obviously happy about the ruling. Meanwhile, many in the African American business community remain extremely disappointed in the court’s decision.
Allen spoke extensively about his case during the 2018 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit and during a televised radio interview on The Breakfast Club back in October 2019. Both interviews sparked national outrage.
Many others began to strongly question why Comcast repeatedly refuses to license Allen’s cable networks, in contrast with other distributors like Direct TV, Dish Network, and Verizon that have all agreed to carry his programming.
Allen once sued Charter Communications for the same reasons, but that case, too, was dismissed.