LOS ANGELES – The three leading civil rights groups in America conspired with cable giants Comcast and Time-Warner to stay quiet about a lack of diversity at the two companies in return for millions of dollars in donations, according to a $20 billion lawsuit filed recently in federal court.
The NAACP, the National Urban League and the Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network agreed to help Comcast and Time Warner cover up their diversity woes in exchange for financial contributions, says a lawsuit filed by the National Association of African American Owned Media and Entertainment Studios, a TV company founded by comedian/producer Byron Allen.
Comcast and Time Warner, whose proposed megamerger awaits federal approval, made major cash donations to civil rights organizations in return for endorsements of the merger and their silence on the companies’ discriminatory business practices as it relates to African Americans, the lawsuit says.
“Comcast has, in essence, created a ‘Jim Crow’ process with respect to licensing channels from 100 percent African American-owned media,” the suit reads. “Comcast has reserved a few spaces for 100 percent African American–owned media in the ‘back of the bus’ while the rest of the bus is occupied by white-owned media companies. This is the epitome of racial discrimination in contracting.”
Comcast, Sharpton and the National Action Network all hit back at Allen and the NAAAOM in statements to The Hollywood Reporter.
“We do not generally comment on pending litigation, but this complaint represents nothing more than a string of inflammatory, inaccurate, and unsupported allegations,” Comcast said in its statement.
Sharpton called the allegations “frivolous” and said he would be filing a counterclaim for defamation. He told Reuters the suit had “not one scintilla of evidence.”
“The lawsuit is the epitome of an insult to the black community,” Sharpton said.
In a statement to The Huffington Post, the National Action Network further dismissed the lawsuit, calling its credibility into question.
“National Action Network has not been served with any papers and considers this claim frivolous,” the statement read. “If in fact we were to be served, we would gladly defend our relationship with any company as well as to state on the record why we found these discriminatory accusations made by said party to be less than credible and beneath the standards that we engage in.”
The media group filed a similar lawsuit against AT&T and DirecTV, also for allegedly “conspiring to and engaging in racial discrimination in contracting against 100 percent African American-owned media in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.”