Supreme Court Sides With Comcast in Byron Allen’s $20B Racial Bias Lawsuit

Byron Allen and Entertainment Studios Logo (Credit: Deposit Photos and Handout)

The U.S. Supreme Court sided with Comcast Monday in Byron Allen’s racial discrimination lawsuit, ruling the media mogul must prove race was the sole reason the cable giant refused to carry his channels if the case is to move forward.

In a unanimous decision, the justices said a lower court used the wrong legal standard in allowing Allen’s $20 billion discrimination lawsuit to proceed, according to Variety. The High Court sent the case back to the San Francisco-based U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider Allen’s claims. Here is the Supreme Court’s full opinion.

Comcast said it welcomed Monday’s High Court ruling.

“We are pleased the Supreme Court unanimously restored certainty on the standard to bring and prove civil rights claims,” Comcast said. “The well-established framework that has protected civil rights for decades continues. The nation’s civil rights laws have not changed with this ruling; they remain the same as before the case was filed.”

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Meanwhile, Allen has vowed to take the fight to Congress.

“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has rendered a ruling that is harmful to the civil rights of millions of Americans,” Allen said in a statement to Urban Hollywood 411. “This is a very bad day for our country. 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.”

Allen filed suit against Comcast and other cable giants in 2015, over their refusal to carry channels run by his Los Angeles-based Entertainment Studios, including Comedy.TV, Cars.TV, Pets.TV, and Recipe.TV.

The media mogul said Comcast chose not to do business with him because he’s black. His attorneys cited a section of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which says all people should have “the same right” to contracts as whites.

Comcast and the other cable companies countered that their decisions were based on limited capacity and a lack of interest in the type of programming Allen was offering, not race.

His case was dismissed by lower federal courts, but the Ninth Circuit Court reversed the case. The San Francisco-based court said lawsuits may move forward if plaintiffs can show that discrimination was one of the factors in the denial of a contract.