FCC and Charter Face $10 Billion Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Actor/director/producer Robert Townsend is suing for alleged racial discrimination

According to reports, both the Federal Communications Commission and Charter Communications are being sued for $10 billion in federal court by Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios and the National Association of African-American Owned Media (NAAAOM) for “racial discrimination in contracting for television channel carriage.”

“President Obama and the Democratic Party have completely excluded the African-American community when it comes to economic inclusion,” Allen said in a statement Wednesday. “Everyone talks about diversity, but diversity in Hollywood and the media starts with ownership. African-Americans don’t need handouts and donations; we can hire ourselves if white corporate America does business with us in a fair and equitable way.”

The suit continues with allegations of civil rights violations and is the second such suit that Allen and NAAAOM have in the courts against the telecommunications giants right now.

“A driving purpose of the Federal Communications Act and the First Amendment is to ensure the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse sources,” the lawsuit indicates. “Yet the FCC has done nothing to protect the voices of African-American-owned media companies in the face of increased media consolidation,” it adds. “Instead, the FCC works hand-in-hand with these merging television distribution companies to enable and facilitate their Civil Rights violations. The FCC’s apparent standard operating procedure is to obtain and accept sham diversity commitments from merger applicants, in excess of its statutory duties.”

“At the direction of its President and Chief Executive Officer, Tom Rutledge, Defendant Charter Communications has intentionally excluded African-American-owned media companies, including Plaintiff Entertainment Studios, from contracting for carriage on its television distribution platform,” the complaint continues. “Rutledge did this himself and by and through his subordinates, including Allan Singer, Senior Vice President of Programming at Charter,” the 27-page filing notes, calling Rutledge, “a blatant racist.”

Allen and NAAAOM  have another $20 billion lawsuit against Comcast and Time Warner Cable, originally filed last year which was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Terry Hatter Jr. and then revived by the same judge. Allen and NAAAOM filed an amended complaint, which Comcast asked to be dismissed.

That lawsuit is still being evaluated before the courts, Time Warner Cable was dismissed as a defendant from the case last fall, and its $20 million merger with Comcast has stalled. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network, as well as the NAACP and the Urban League were dropped from the ongoing suit late last year.

Why Millionaire Shawn Thomas Gives Back on Periscope

After the multi-million dollar sale of his company, Shawn Thomas started the next chapter in his life — to share both business and life lessons in a multi-faceted way. As an angel investor, he engages as an active advisor and mentor to entrepreneurs in early-stage companies.

Shawn also creates content on social media to guide a broader population towards success through daily live broadcasts on Periscope as well as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. He’s a renaissance man who shares lessons in goal setting, business strategies, finance, customer service, business development, and more.

Small Business Trends first met Shawn at the Periscope Summit in September 2015 and recently spoke to him again via telephone.

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angel investor Shawn periscope engagementSmall Business Trends: Why let anybody ask you anything on Periscope? A lot of people don’t understand why anyone would do this.

Shawn Thomas: When I was in my twenties, I didn’t have a mentor or advisor in my life. One of the things I said to myself was when I achieve success, I would give back. One of the ways I’ve found most efficient for giving back is utilizing Periscope. It allows anyone in the world who downloads the app to converse with me in an open format and ask questions that can help them on their entrepreneurial journey. It allows quick dialogue, and if somebody asks a question, everybody on that scope gets to hear the answer and gets to benefit from that question. This helps out more than being a one-on-one mentor with somebody. Including archived replay views, I can mentor and provide experience-sharing with tens of thousands.

Small Business Trends: So your ebook, The Power of Naiveté, addresses naiveté, but what do you tell people who say naiveté is a bad thing?

Shawn Thomas: I would say they don’t understand the context of the word naive in its true form. Naive is nothing more than the lack of experience, and we all have a lack of experience. Each day we age, we are learning what it feels like to live another day. If you take it in that context, the future has unlimited potential. There are some things that can only be learned by doing. It is important that you do not see a lack of experience as a negative, but rather as an opportunity for experience to be gained.

Shawn Thomas answering viewer questions on Periscope

Small Business Trends: What was a recent angel investment you made?

Shawn Thomas: I just made a 6-figure investment into an entrepreneur named Taylor Bowmaster. His company is named Smoke Cubes.

Small Business Trends: Tell us a little about Uniguest, because it was a life-changing moment for you when you sold it.

Shawn Thomas: Today, Uniguest is a combination of many mergers and acquisitions, but it began as a one-man operation from my house. Years later I sold it to U.S. Hospitality who took on the name of Uniguest. The company that exists today started in 1986.

Small Business Trends: Where can people connect with you?

Shawn Thomas: I’m @askamillionaire on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. I’m @akashawnthomas on Twitter, Periscope, and Blab.

Images: Instagram, Katch

This article, “Why Millionaire Shawn Thomas Gives Back on Periscope” was first published on Small Business Trends