Comcast, Byron Allen settle racial discrimination suit

Byron Allen
Byron Allen (Entertainment Studios)

Comcast and Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios Networks reached a new carriage agreement today, settling a pending racial discrimination suit.

The new deal covers The Weather Channel and 14 broadcast television stations and includes distribution of Comedy.TV, Recipe.TV and JusticeCentral.TV on X1 along with VOD and TV everywhere rights for those networks. Comcast will also launch the free ad-supported digital app, Local NOW, on the Xfinity X1 and Flex platforms, and Xfinity customers who receive The Weather Channel will have access in the coming months to its weloveweather.tv website and app on an authenticated basis.

"We're excited to begin a new phase of partnership with Comcast and Xfinity, including the distribution of our cable channels for the first time on Xfinity platforms," said Allen in a statement.

RELATED: Comcast defends civil rights record as discrimination lawsuit heads to Supreme Court

"We are pleased to have reached this multifaceted agreement that continues our long relationship with The Weather Channel while bringing Xfinity customers additional content.  We look forward to an ongoing partnership," said Bec Heap, senior vice president of video and entertainment at Comcast Cable, in a statement.

Entertainment Studios had previously filed a $20 billion lawsuit against Comcast claiming that the cable operator for years refused to carry any of the Entertainment Studios’ networks. As the case last year was preparing to head to the U.S. Supreme Court, Comcast defended its civil rights record.

“Comcast has an outstanding record of supporting and fostering diverse programming, including programming from African-American owned channels, two more of which we launched earlier this year,” said a Comcast spokesperson. “This appeal is solely about a technical point of law that was decided in a novel, and we believe, incorrect way by the Ninth Circuit. We hope the Supreme Court will reverse the Ninth Circuit’s clearly erroneous interpretation of the law and bring this case to an end.”

That statement came after Allen accused the company of working together with the Trump Administration’s U.S. Department of Justice to stifle a provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and its prohibition against racial discrimination in contracting.

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