Byron Allen is absolutely on point with his lawsuit against Comcast and various other parties. But as we lawyers know, lawsuits are clumsy efforts to get to the real truth, and the real justice that should prevail. But Allen’s accusations are accurate and correct. I should know because I filed two legal briefs on behalf of African American media companies in opposition to the proposed merger between Comcast and Times Warner for the very same reasons that Byron suggests.
To borrow the immortal words of Kanye West, “Comcast don’t like Black people.” Trite, but true. It always humors me that when confronted with these accusations, Comcast obfuscates, “we have created hundreds of minority channels.” And while this may be technically true, the stations they speak of are Hispanic stations. Now, lets be clear about something; while I applaud the opportunities provided to my Hispanic brothers, Comcast’s numbers are more revealing when you dig a little deeper. Comcast only has four Black stations; and those stations were created because of its recent merger with NBC. And even they are not fully Black owned or operated, but are simply Comcast in “blackface.”
Check the facts, it’s true! What’s even more incredible is Comcast seeking to control access to 97 percent of all African American households with this pending merger. Comcast will not only control the system by which news and entertainment is delivered to Black households, they will also control who delivers it, with no commitment to access for independent Black voices.
Allen is absolutely correct, and hits the nail on its head with his lawsuit. But will it prevail within our court system? Probably not. But, fortunately, there are other measures of which we might avail ourselves; but I will speak to that later. Back to Byron. As an attorney for NBC Universal during the last merger, I had a birds-eye view to witness Comcast’s unapologetic attempts to buy off Black leadership with flimsy promises that have not been honored according to the spirit in which they were made. As a former director of domestic policy for a recent U.S. president, I have seen how these things work. The relationships between Al Sharpton and others, and David Cohen, of Comcast, should be questioned. After all, how many times has Cohen hosted big ticket fundraisers for the president in his home? How many Black organizations that endorsed the Comcast mergers first received generous contributions from Comcast’s charitable foundation, or politicians from its political fund?
Back to my earlier point about what can we do to have a voice. Yesterday, I canceled my Comcast subscription, for which I shelved out $300 per month. That’s for your courage Byron, and for all people of color, and people who believe in justice, people who are struggling to raise a family and to get a whiff of the American Dream. I say turn Comcast off, until they turn us on.
Timothy Wright III is experienced in the areas of transactional law, governmental affairs, public finance, litigation and healthcare law.