Media mogul Byron Allen, founder, chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group and Entertainment Studios, says it’s time for white corporate America to share the wealth.
“America should not be proud of the fact in 2022, you are looking at the one and only Black person in America that owns Big Four network affiliates,” Allen said in a recent interview with TVNewsCheck.
Allen, who launched his entertainment career as a comedian and TV host in the 1990s before entering the business side, has been relentless in his efforts to get corporate America to spend 15 percent of its advertising budgets on Black-owned media, and redress generations of inequity including an absence of minority-owned media.
He is currently embroiled in a $10 billion lawsuit with fast food giant McDonald’s, with Allen alleging that the brand isn’t spending a fair share of advertising in his networks. Last year, Allen and other Black media owners joined forces to pressure automaker General Motors for a lack of ad buys in Black media.
Allen also settled a $10 billion lawsuit filed by his Entertainment Studios against Charter Communications for racial discrimination for refusing to distribute Allen’s channels. In 2020, he agreed to a settlement in a lawsuit against Comcast for racial discrimination over Comcast’s refusal to also distribute his channels.
He owns 12 TV networks that are carried by major multichannel video programming distributors. His Weather Group owns The Weather Channel. He is also the owner of TheGrio. He has also expressed interest in buying the NFL franchise the Denver Broncos.
With major expansion plans for his media empire, Allen is launching the Weather Channel Plus, which will feature more than 50 streaming channels of news and entertainment and will cost subscribers $4.99 a month. Also coming is the Weather Channel En Español, which will be a digital-only channel.
Allen’s company also has a new digital division of the company, which includes the company’s streaming efforts. The company also started streaming platforms Sports.tv , Pets.tv, Recipe.tv, Cars.tv and Comedy.tv.
According to Allen, there is a glaring “trade deficit” between white corporate America and Black America.
“I sued McDonald’s for $10 billion, and the judge [in January] said that the lawsuit can go forward. I didn’t sue McDonald’s because they weren’t spending any money with Black-owned media. I sued them because they weren’t spending enough,” he said.
He added, “My position has been really simple. The greatest trade deficit in America is the trade between white corporate America and Black America. White corporate America needs to do business with Black America the way that Black America is doing business with white corporate America. Until we achieve that goal, we cannot achieve one America. The whole system is imbalanced, and it doesn’t work.”
Allen says his corporate activism was pushed into high gear after a conversation he had with the wife of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.
“Coretta Scott King was a friend of mine, and she said as Black people, we have had four major challenges here in this country: End slavery, end Jim Crow, achieve civil rights and achieve economic inclusion. She said they killed my Martin over the speech he gave in February ’68 when he said there are two Americas,” recalled Allen.
He continued, “One America has economic inclusion, access to opportunity and education, and the other America doesn’t. That changed my perspective, and it also changed my trajectory and how I built this company. We have to invest in everybody to succeed, and I mean Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, everybody.”