Thursday, May 13, 2021

Byron Allen Threatens to Sue Ad Agencies If They Don’t Spend with Black Media

*Media mogul Byron Allen has fired off letters of intent to major ad brands in which he warns that he will take legal action against them if they don’t support Black-owned media. 

Allen is calling on ad agencies to allocate a minimum of 2% of their budgets to Black-owned media or face legal action. 

Allen “says he has engaged in conversations with chairpeople and CEOs at agencies and holding companies as well as brands about investing more in Black-owned media. But one year later, Allen says he has not seen any real progress,” writes Ad Age’s Jeanine Poggi. Allen blames “the racism on Madison Avenue” for the perpetual lack of improvement.

Allen, who owns several cable networks as well as The Weather Channel and an entertainment production company, reached a deal last year to end his lawsuit against Comcast Communications. Allen sued the company for $20 billion in 2015 for refusing to carry his lifestyle channels, arguing that it was because of his race. He brought a similar lawsuit against cable provider Charter for $10 billion for refusing to carry his networks.

Allen’s attorneys linked a section of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 to the case, which says all people should have “the same right” to contracts as whites.

READ MORE: A Conversation with Byron Allen About His Legacy and Cultural Impact

Byron Allen - Getty

Allen took his battle with Comcast all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in March ruled that the media mogul had to prove race was the reason Comcast refused to carry his channels. 

The Supreme Court sent the case back to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, but in July, Allen agreed to withdraw the lawsuit as part of the settlement. 

Allen’s Entertainment Studios and Charter Communications recently agreed to settle the $10 billion racial-discrimination lawsuit.

In June, Allen and Comcast reached a settlement that saw the network extend terms for The Weather Channel and 14 television stations.

Terms of the Charter settlement were not disclosed.

In August, Byron Allen’s Allen Media Broadcasting, a division of Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group, acquired Honolulu ABC affiliate KITV from SJL Broadcasting for $30 million. He reportedly plans to spend another $10 billion over the next two years to buy more network affiliates. 

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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