An African-American media group has filed a $20 billion lawsuit against Comcast and Time Warner just ahead of their proposed merger.
The group claims that the two media giants have discriminated against black-owned media companies. But the two big media conglomerates aren’t the only ones targeted in the suit. The black group is also suing Al Sharpton.
The National Association of African-American Owned Media filed the lawsuit on February 20. The group contends that Comcast and Time Warner have spent only a fraction of their expenditures on black programming.
The lawsuit says that the two media giants “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.”
Al Sharpton, though, claims that the group’s claims are nothing but “frivolous allegations” to which he welcomes the opportunity to answer.
Regardless, the group insists that much of the blackcentric programming already purchased is only “window dressing” and that many black celebrities are being used merely as “fronts” to push what are in actuality “white-owned businesses.” the group says that it was all an effort by Comcast to “whitewash Comcast’s discriminatory business practices.”
The group also charges that Comcast made “large donations” to get various people to support the merger. Some of that money, the group charges, when to Al Sharpton to endorse the deal and divert attention away from charges of discrimination.
The lawsuit also claims that the Sharpton endorsement deal explains why he has remained on the air.
“Despite the notoriously low ratings that Sharpton’s show generates,” the lawsuit says, “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.”
A Comcast spokesperson, of course, disagreed with the group’s claims saying, “We are proud of our outstanding record supporting and fostering diverse programming, including programming from African-American–owned and –controlled cable channels. We currently carry more than 100 networks geared toward diverse audiences, including multiple networks owned or controlled by minorities.”
Sharpton’s National Action Network also says that the lawsuit is frivolous and adds that the racial activist organization had not been served with any papers.
Some sources inside MSNBC are saying that Sharpton’s show is under pressure at the network. A recent report at The Daily Beast says that Sharpton’s show may be moved from its 6PM daily slot to the weekends. These claims, though, are speculation.
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