LifestyleStacy M. Brown

Comcast, Byron Allen Reach Deal After Lengthy Legal Battle

After a long and often contentious legal battle, Comcast Corp. and media mogul Byron Allen have reached a content carriage deal for three of Allen’s cable channels — Comedy.TV, Recipe.TV and JusticeCentral.TV.

The three channels will now appear on Comcast’s Xfinity cable television packages. According to a news release, the deal between Comcast and Allen’s Entertainment Studios Networks extends and amends terms for The Weather Channel and 14 other broadcast television stations.

Comcast said it would 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,” Allen said in a statement.

Allen and Comcast had been embroiled in a protracted legal battle. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down much of Allen’s claims alleging civil rights and other violations against the cable giant.

In a 9-0 decision, the court said it was not enough for a civil rights plaintiff to assert that his race was one of several factors that motivated a company to refuse to do business with him.

Instead, Allen was told that he must show race was the crucial and deciding factor.

The Supreme Court sent Allen’s case back to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, but as part of his settlement with Comcast, Allen agreed to withdraw the lawsuit that he filed in 2015.

The lawsuit began after Allen tried and failed to reach a deal with Comcast and Charter Communications for slots on their systems for seven of his channels, including Pets.TV, Cars.TV and Comedy.TV. Both companies reportedly expressed some interest but ultimately said they already carried other similar channels.

Allen followed with lawsuits that alleged racial discrimination. He sought billions of dollars in damages, noting that Comcast had given slots to lesser-known channels produced by white-owned companies.

As the five-year-old case moved through the courts, Allen pointed to the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which states that “Black people shall have the same right … to make and enforce contracts … as is enjoyed by white citizens.”

After a U.S. District Judge dismissed Allen’s suit, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the suit could proceed. However, the U.S. Supreme Court put new limits on race-bias lawsuits.

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

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