Byron Allen, owner of the Weather Channel as well as several regional sports networks, has settled a long-running racial discrimination lawsuit with Comcast.
According to Variety, on Wednesday Comcast reached an agreement with Allen’s Entertainment Studios to pick up three of his cable channels: Comedy.TV, Recipe.TV ,and JusticeCentral.TV.
The settlement also amends the terms of Comcast’s deal with The Weather Channel, which Allen bought in 2018. Allen filed a $20 billion lawsuit in 2015 against the cable giant, accusing it of violating civil rights law by refusing to carry his portfolio of seven niche cable channels. Comcast vehemently denied that race played any role in its decision.
Allen said he’s happy to move on from the suit and create a new partnership with Comcast.
“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.
The settlement between the two will allow Comcast to launch the free Weather Channel app Local Now on its Xfinity and Flex platforms and the WeLoveWeather.TV website on an authenticated basis. Comcast will also have video on demand rights to the three new channels.
“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,” Bec Heap, senior vice president of video and entertainment for Comcast Cable, told Variety.
Allen’s suit alleged Comcast violated a federal civil rights law from 1866 designed to ensure that African Americans had the same right to make and enforce contracts as white Americans. The suit asserted that since race played a factor in Comcast’s decision making, it violated section 1981 of the law.
The case made it all the way to the Supreme Court, but in March the court ruled 9-0 in favor of Comcast on the interpretation question and sent the case back to a lower court. The New York City Comptroller, Scott Stringer, pushed the cable giant to come to a settlement with Allen late last year. New York City’s pension fund holds 9 million Comcast shares worth an estimated $423 million.