Byron Allen walks back racism accusation, says statement went out by mistake

A PR rep for Byron Allen told FierceCable that a statement from the media mogul that accused pay-TV operators of being run by "racist white executives" wasn't intended to be released. 

"There was an oversight on our part," said Eric Peterkofsky, who said the statement including the inflammatory language was mistakingly released to press, even though a new draft of the statement had been created that didn't include the harsh racial accusations.

"The real issue here is these white executives are not used to an African American man holding them accountable," the updated statement said. "Charter Communications has an all-white male board, consisting of 16 members. No women. No Asians. No Hispanics. No African-Americans. How shameful in 2016."

Allen's apparent walk-back of this rather pungent terminology is the latest development in an interesting court and regulatory battle, pitting his fledgling media empire against the major pay-TV operators. 

Allen is accusing operators including Charter and Comcast of sun-shining the important issue of program diversity. Instead of signing carriage deals with worthy, independent programmers which are 100 percent owned by African-American interests, he said, operators are choosing to carry channels like Aspire and Revolt, which are merely backed by one or several prominent African-American personalities, serving primarily as figureheads. 

Last week, Allen followed his $20 billion suit against Comcast over this issue with a complaint to the FCC, accusing the cable company of not living up to the FCC's 2011 diversity mandates that were tied to approval of the NBCUniversal merger.

Comcast, in turn, accused Allen of playing the race card to get carriage for his channels, thus leading to Tuesday's inflammatory, emotional statement from the mogul.

"I challenge both Comcast and Charter Communications not to say that I am wrong, but to PROVE that I am wrong," Allen said in his revised statement. "Comcast and Charter should open up ALL their contracts and show the world what is on their platforms that is 100 percent African American-owned and participating in the billions of dollars they spend on programming every year."

For more:
- read Byron Allen's updated statement

Related articles:
Byron Allen responds to Comcast: Cable biz full of 'racist white executives'
Comcast to FCC: Ignore Byron Allen, he's just trying to get carriage
Comcast has not met NBCU diversity conditions, Byron Allen says in FCC petition

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