Byron Allen, former talk show host and current president and CEO of Entertainment Studios has joined a 20 billion dollar (yes you read correctly – 20 BILLION) lawsuit against Comcast, Time Warner, Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, the NAACP, and others. The lawsuit, also joined by the National Association of African American Media, charges that the big media interests are freezing out 100% Black owned media companies. Allen and NAAAM also charge that these media companies are paying Al Sharpton and his National Action Network to provide racial cover.
It’s an old game. A company needs to ensure that they are seen as diverse and non racist, so they pay off Sharpton (or Jesse Jackson) to announce that their company is a friend to black folk. Whether the business is actually doing something for any black people other than Sharpton and his friends is unclear. Says, Allen:
“It’s cheaper to give Al Sharpton money than it is to do business with real African-American owned media,” Allen told TheDC. “What Comcast does is they give Al Sharpton money so he doesn’t call them racist. That is the issue here.”
Comcast’s more than $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable is waiting on approval at the FCC, with a decision expected soon. If approved, the merger would make Comcast the most powerful media corporation in the world. But as Allen, who owns seven upstart cable networks, points out: Comcast pays out $11 billion in licensing fees to networks that it carries on its platform. How much of that money goes to 100 percent African-American owned media companies? $3 million. A fraction of one percent.
Sharpton’s curious takeover of the 6 pm timeslot on Comcast-owned MSNBC in late 2010 was predicated on the Reverend signing off on Comcast’s last merger: its historic acquisition of NBCUniversal, which the FCC and Department of Justice approved in January 2011 after a tough regulatory fight from California Rep. Maxine Waters on racial discrimination grounds. Comcast lavished donations upon Sharpton’s National Action Network and other civil rights groups to get them to sign off on the deal, according to Allen’s suit.
“Why is Sharpton on TV every night on MSNBC? Because he endorsed Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal. He signed the memorandum of understanding back in 2010. He endorsed the merger. Next thing you know we’re watching him on television trying to form a sentence. Every night we have the privilege of watching adult illiteracy.”
Read the entire article here.
Of course, some of us have known for a long time that Sharpton was a pawn and a sell out, offering his racial blessing for a price. We also knew that for all the appeals to race pride, this administration has been no friend to Black businesses or Black people. We knew that what Sharpton and others care most about is lining their own pockets. What is different is that right now, someone with some clout is speaking out. And speaking loudly. Right now, someone with a record of providing jobs and opportunity to Black people is speaking out. Right now someone who is self made and not a product of “the Right wing” is speaking truth to power. Maybe now someone will listen.