Tag: Comcast

Byron Allen Wins Preliminary U.S. Court Victories Against Comcast and Charter Communications Over Racial Discrimination

Entertainment Studios CEO Byron Allen (photo via thewrap.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to PRNewswire, Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios (ES) and the National Association of African-American Owned Media (NAAAOM) – plaintiffs in federal lawsuits filed against Comcast and Charter Communications – have announced two decisions issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that will allow them to go to trial against two of the largest cable television carriers in the country.

In the $20 billion lawsuit against Comcast and the $10 billion suit against Charter, the carriers are accused of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which prohibits racial discrimination in contracting. For years, Entertainment Studios has been requesting that Comcast and Charter carry its networks, which are distributed by Comcast and Charter’s competitors, including Verizon, DirecTV, AT&T, DISH, and many other carriers, to millions of people around the country.

Both Comcast and Charter, however, refused all of Allen’s requests for network carriage. Subsequently, Allen filed lawsuits in federal district court in Los Angeles.

In two historically significant decisions, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected Comcast and Charter’s attempts to dismiss the cases before trial. The Court upheld Entertainment Studios’ Section 1981 claims against both Comcast and Charter; and instead ruled that both cases could proceed in the trial courts to discovery and trial.

“These two decisions against Comcast and Charter are very significant, unprecedented, and historic,” said Byron Allen, Founder/Chairman/CEO of Entertainment Studios. “The lack of true economic inclusion for African Americans will end with me, and these rulings show that I am unwavering in my commitment to achieving this long overdue goal.”

“The Court’s rulings overwhelmingly reflect the Ninth Circuit’s rejection of the Defendants’ positions and arguments,” said Mark DeVitre, President of plaintiff, NAAAOM. “I look forward to quickly moving into discovery where we expect much more evidence to surface.”

“These decisions are hugely important in terms of opening the courts to African American-owned media. The Court paved the way to our eventual success at trial by ensuring that the proper ‘mixed motive’ standard for our claims – a lower standard of proof than the ‘but for’ standard argued by Comcast and Charter – applies,” said Entertainment Studios’ attorney, Skip Miller, partner in Miller Barondess. “Additionally, the Court dismissed Charter’s and Comcast’s attempts to use the First Amendment as a shield for their alleged discrimination. I very much look forward to trying these cases. And I give Mr. Allen tremendous credit for having the will and the constitution to invest the capital and resources to pursue them relentlessly.”

According to Deadline.com, Charter and Comcast issued separate statements, expressing disappointment with the ruling. “We respectfully disagree with the Court’s decision, and are reviewing the decision and considering our options,” Comcast said in a statement.

Charter was more pointed in its response. “This lawsuit is a desperate tactic that this programmer has used before with other distributors,” Charter said in a statement to Deadline. “We are disappointed with today’s decision and will vigorously defend ourselves against these claims.”

The Los Angeles-based Entertainment Studios alleged Charter’s former senior vice president of programming, Allan Singer, refused to meet with its representatives. Singer rescheduled and postponed meetings and offered “disingenuous” explanations for refusing to carry it programming, according to court documents.

Singer said bandwidth limitations and operational demands precluded carriage of ENT’s cable networks, while reaching carriage agreements with “lesser-known, white-owned channels” such as the rural focused RFD-TV and the horror channel Chiller.

Court documents cite evidence of racial bias, including one instance in which Singer allegedly approached an African-American protest group outside Charter’s headquarters and told them “to get off welfare.” Additionally, in court documents Charter CEO Tom Rutledge is alleged to have referred to Allen as “Boy” at an industry event.

“Plaintiffs suggest that these incidents are illustrative of Charter’s institutional racism,” the Appeals Court writes, in summarizing the case’s history. “Noting also that the cable operator had historically refused to carry African American-owned channels and, prior to its merger with Time Warner Cable, had a board of directors composed only of white men.”

Entertainment Studios ascribed similar discriminatory motives on the part of Comcast, which offered carriage deals to such networks as Inspirational Network, Fit TV, Outdoor Channel and Baby First Americas while telling Allen it had no bandwidth or storage capacity for his networks.

Allen founded Entertainment Studios in 1993 and owns eight 24-hour HD television networks serving nearly 160 million subscribers: THE WEATHER CHANNEL, PETS.TV, COMEDY.TV, RECIPE.TV, CARS.TV, ES.TV, MYDESTINATION.TV, and JUSTICE CENTRAL.TV. The company also produces, distributes, and sells advertising for 41 television programs, making it one of the largest independent producers/distributors of first-run syndicated television programming for broadcast television stations.

Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures is a full-service, theatrical motion picture distribution company specializing in wide release commercial content. ESMP released 2017’s highest-grossing independent movie, the shark thriller 47 METERS DOWN, which grossed over $44.3 million. In 2018, ESMP also released the critically-acclaimed and commercially successful Western HOSTILES and the historic mystery-thriller CHAPPAQUIDDICK.

Upcoming releases include the Keanu Reeves sci-fi thriller REPLICAS, the John Krasinski/Emily Blunt-starring animated feature ANIMAL CRACKERS, and Joe Carnahan’s Mel Gibson/Naomi Watts starring action-thriller BOSS LEVEL.

All Star Code Founder Christina Lewis Halpern Exposes Boys of Color to STEM Opportunities

All Star Code founder Christina Lewis Halpern with All Star students (photo via allstarcode.org)

via blavity.com

“We all want and need a seat at the table, and then we want to run the table and then we want to have our own table. Coding is the ticket to that,” says Christina Lewis Halpern, the founder of All Star Code, a six-week initiative for high school boys of color to discover innovative career opportunities through a computer science based curriculum.

According to Atlanta Black Star, the New York activist is the daughter of the late Reginald F. Lewis, a Wall Street attorney who became the first African-American to build a billion-dollar company. Her father, a Harvard graduate before dying of brain cancer in 1993, operated TLC Beatrice International, a grocery, beverage and household products distributor.

The month before he passed, Lewis named Halpern, who was only 12-years-old at the time, to the board of his foundation. “My family foundation is committed to social justice and believes in the power of entrepreneurship and investing in our community,” Halpern said. Two decades into the future and Halpern, a professional business journalist, created the All Star Code program “to help the next generation of youth catch the next wave of opportunity.”

So how did she do it? “We seeded this initiative and provided an anchor grant. About 20 percent of the money invested in All Star Code last year was from the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation, or Lewis family personal funds,” Halpern explained. Other donors included Bond Collective, Cisco, Comcast, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Chase, MLB Advanced Media and Yahoo!. These corporations in addition to operational support gave $350,000 in funding.

Because of the lack of opportunities in STEM for men and women of color, Halpern’s All Star Code is designed to change that. The nonprofit raised more than $740,000 in 2016 at the annual All Star Code fundraiser in the Hamptons. Due to the generous contributions of the donors, the organization, which started in New York City and has stretched to Pittsburgh, has expanded and continues to grow rapidly.

The number of boys that participated in the Summer initiative skyrocketed from only 20 in 2014 to 160 this year. Halpern says that their goal is to have at least 1,000 high schoolers in 2020.

To read full article, go to: Daughter Of The First African-American To Build A Billion-Dollar Company Exposes Boys Of Color To STEM Opportunities | BLAVITY

Comcast and HUD to Provide Internet Access to Public Housing in More Cities

(photo via baltimoretimesonline.com)
(photo via baltimoretimes-online.com)

article by Samara Lynn via blackenterprise.com

Comcast and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced a joint effort to deliver Internet access to public housing in Florida’s Miami-Dade County and the cities of Nashville, Philadelphia, and Seattle.

The program is called Internet Essentials. It includes high-speed Internet service with download speeds up to 10 Mbps, a free Wi-Fi router, access to free digital literacy training, and the option to purchase a computer for less than $150.

The initiative is part of the President Obama and HUD ConnectHome program to extend affordable broadband access to families living in HUD-assisted housing.Today’s announcement marks the eighth time in five years Comcast has expanded eligibility for the program in the company’s efforts to aid in closing the digital divide.

Initially, Internet Essentials was offered to families with children in the National School Lunch Program. It was then expanded to those with children in the reduced price school lunch program.  Since, Comcast has expanded the program to include families with children in parochial, private, charter, and cyber schools, as well as students who are home-schooled.

Last year, Comcast created a pilot program to offers the service to low-income seniors and low-income community college students.

Source: Comcast and HUD to Provide Internet Access to Public Housing

Black Shopping Channel CEO Cleveland Gary Signs $125 Million Deal to Expand TV Viewership

Black Shopping Channel CEO Cleveland Gary

The Black Shopping Channel has announced the successful completion of a deal worth $125 million to expand TV viewership via Comcast, DirecTV, and Time Warner.

Currently, Black Shopping Channel can be seen on Dish Network. As of now, the financing structure is a combination of debt and equity in affiliationBSC with the New York Stock Exchange bank.  CEO Cleveland Gary states that, “The added $125 million to the company’s balance sheet raises the Black Shopping Channel’s market value to a $700 million dollar company and growing.”

Other sources are anticipating 200,000,000 monthly visitors by the end of 2015 for the Black Shopping Channel via their website at www.blackshoppingchannel.com.

The site enables Black business owners to own a free virtual store used to promote and advertise their products and give their business exposure to the high volume of monthly shoppers. Right now, BSC (Black Shopping Channel) is the only Urban television shopping channel that promotes products from Black and small business owners from all over the country. This channel alone is broadcast over national television, seen on DISH Network, cable, and FTA access, as well as 20,000,000 homes throughout the United States.  With this new deal, more people will learn about Black-owned businesses as more small businesses and their products get more exposure.

We will be exposed to more infomercials about black products and services.  So far, blackshoppingchannel.tv can be seen on 16 different network channels. If you want to learn more about how you can get your hands on Black-owned businesses, services, and products, click here at http://www.blackshoppingchannel.com/

article by Joshua D. Copeland via thereelnetwork.net

Sean Combs’ Revolt TV Signs Distribution Deal With Time Warner Cable

Sean CombsSean Combs’ Revolt TV network has signed a national carriage agreement with Time Warner Cable ahead of its fall launch. Revolt is one of four African-American-owned independent networks (and 10 overall) that Comcast pledged to would distribute, a condition for FCC approval of its merger with NBC Universal.

Revolt has been designed as a multimedia platform with an emphasis on music programming, live content and social media, and distribution in urban markets has been said to be key. “This is a landmark distribution deal that demonstrates Time Warner Cable’s commitment to bringing a platform for music artists and fans to their subscribers,” said Combs, Revolt’s founder and chairman. “It positions Revolt to come out of the gate strong, and we look forward to igniting the passion of initial audiences across the U.S.”

With Time Warner and Comcast, Revolt is currently projecting to launch in 25 million homes. Discussions with other major distributors are ongoing. MTV, Warner Bros. Records and Live Nation veteran Andy Schuon leads Revolt with Combs.

Related Stories:

article by Jon Wiseman via variety.com

Issa Rae, Malinda Williams to Co-Host New ASPiRE Talkshow Modeled After ‘The View’

Issa Rae to Co-Host “Exhale” on Magic Johnson’s ASPiRE Network

ASPiRE, the new television network from Magic Johnson Enterprises that promised, at the time of its launch, an “entertaining and inspiring mix of original and groundbreaking programming,” with the likes of Laurence FishburneOmari HardwickEsperanza Spalding and Jonathan Slocumb set to host prime-time series blocks focused on movies, comedy, original series, and music, has greenlit it first talk show, according to Variety.

Titled Exhale, the new network’s entry into the talkshow space is said to be similar to The View, and will be hosted by five African-American women in media: journalist Angela Burt-Murray, actress and comedian Erin Jackson, Issa Rae (“The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl”), author and TV anchor Rene Syler, and actress Malinda Williams.

Content will include conversation on the usual topics – family, relationships, career, money and faith.  Exhale, which is ASPiRE’s 3rd original series, will be produced by Lynne Robinson and Black Robin Media.   Shooting has already begun for what will be an 8-episode first run set to debut in June.

“We are thrilled to add ‘Exhale’ to our lineup of original programming,” said the ASPiRE GM Paul Butler. “This fresh, hip and candid new series will enlighten audiences with its broad range of topics relevant to the community.”

ASPiRE, launched in June 2012, was selected by Comcast from among over 100 candidates as one of four new minority-owned independent networks, and expectations are that the new network will be available in 20 to 30 million homes by the end of this year.

article by Tambay A. Obenon via indiewire.com