Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) has asked a federal judge to once again throw out a $20 million racial discrimination lawsuit filed against it by the National Association of African-American Owned Media and entertainer Byron Allen.
In a motion filed earlier this week at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Comcast said the "plaintiffs continue to peddle the offensive and utterly implausible theory that Comcast conspired with respected civil rights organizations and federal officials to systemically discriminate against African Americans."
The suit was originally filed in February, with the plaintiffs accusing Comcast of keeping Al 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 Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC). Keeping Sharpton on the air, the suit claimed, was merely to keep up appearances.
The 71-page suit said 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."
In August, Judge Terry Hatter Jr. threw out the case, but he re-instated it just 12 days later after the plaintiffs filed an amended claim. TWC, which was no longer in the process of merging with Comcast, was dropped from the suit.
In its motion filed Wednesday, Comcast called the suit a "publicity stunt."
"Plaintiffs still allege no facts that would plausibly explain why Comcast would welcome business partners owned or controlled substantially by African-Americans (and focused on African-American programming), but not '100 percent' by African-Americans, if its carriage decisions were based on race rather than legitimate business concerns," the Comcast motion said.
Going further, the motion added: "Plaintiffs are using this court's docket as a vehicle for Byron Allen to spew rhetoric against President Obama, respected civil rights organizations, and Allen's other perceived enemies."
Comcast asked for a Dec. 28 hearing on its motion in Los Angeles.
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