A daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has sent a letter to Comcast executives in which she accuses the company of trying to “dismantle” a law barring racial discrimination.
The letter released Nov. 10, from the Rev. Bernice King addresses a $20 billion lawsuit from comedian and media mogul, Byron Allen that is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court . Justices were scheduled to hear arguments in the case on Nov. 13.
A lower court ruled in favor of Allen, who says Comcast declined to distribute his channels because he’s Black. Justices are weighing whether Allen needs to show that race was just a factor in Comcast’s decision or whether it was the sole factor. If Comcast wins, the bar will be high to bring and succeed with similar suits.
King says if Comcast wins, “pivotal” anti-discrimination legislation could be compromised.
“Are you prepared to say business decisions based on racism are acceptable if combined with other non-racist reasons?” King wrote to Comcast CEO, Brian Roberts.
Comcast has said its decision not to carry Allen’s channels has nothing to do with race. It has called Allen’s content “not particularly high quality.”
“We have been forced to appeal this decision to defend against a meritless $20 billion claim, but have kept our argument narrowly focused,” a Comcast spokesperson said in response to King’s letter. “This case cannot detract from Comcast’s strong civil rights and diversity record or our outstanding record of supporting and fostering diverse programming from African American owned channels.
There has been no finding of discriminatory conduct by Comcast against this plaintiff by any court, and there has been none.”
The Supreme Court seems likely to overturn a lower court ruling in favor of an African American media mogul and comedian who’s suing cable giant Comcast for racial discrimination.
The justices appeared to be in broad agreement on Nov. 13 that an appeals court applied the wrong legal standard in allowing business owner Byron Allen’s suit against Comcast to go forward. Allen has a separate lawsuit against Charter Communications.
Allen says the cable companies refuse to carry his television channels because he’s Black. The companies say his programming isn’t very good.