Comcast accused of astroturfing alongside Al Sharpton in $20B discrimination suit

A group representing African-American media business owners has sued Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and Al Sharpton, among others, for drumming up fake support for black-owned media while continuing longstanding discriminatory practices.

The $20 billion suit was filed in a California federal court Friday by the National Association of African-American Owned Media and Entertainment Studios Network, a firm owned by producer-entertainer Byron Allen.

In accusing the plaintiffs of "discriminatory practices," the suit alleges that, among other things, Comcast kept Sharpton's daily show on its MSNBC cable network, despite terrible ratings, in order to secure public support for initiatives including Comcast's $45.2 billion takeover bid of TWC. (It was reported Monday that MSNBC is ending the three-year run of Politics Nation With Al Sharpton.)

The 71-page suit also says Comcast and TWC "collectively spend approximately $25 billion" annually to license and market programming networks, but less than $3 million of that money goes to networks that are "100 percent African-American-owned."

Responded Comcast in a statement: "We are proud of our outstanding record supporting and fostering diverse programming, including programming from African-American owned and controlled cable channels. We currently carry more than 100 networks geared toward diverse audiences, including multiple networks owned or controlled by minorities."

For more:
- read this lawsuit
- read this DSL Reports story
- read this New York Daily News story

Related links:
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NCTA admits to backing mysterious 'Onward Internet' campaign
Comcast looking for execs to lead 'mobile-first' product development
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