Killer Mike Demands Black People Stand With Byron Allen In Discrimination Fight Against Comcast Going To The Supreme Court
Atlanta born and social justice-centered, Killer Mike is clear about our responsibility as African Americans to one another. Killer Mike Demands Black People Stand With Byron Allen In Discrimination Fight Against Comcast Going To The Supreme Court
Without a doubt, the rapper/activist believes that as a community, our focus should be one that builds the African American dollar, supports institutions that cultivate Black leadership, and influence Black entrepreneurs to shift culture through deals.
This is especially true in 2019, as the facade of post-racialism that the Obama administration painted fades away, and the potential of a legal decision that could put race relations back at least a century looms.
Comcast and Charter Communications and the U.S. Department of Justice are currently attempting to dismantle the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and deny media mogul Byron Allen (owner of Entertainment Studios) a seat at the table, resulting in a case that goes before the conservative heavy Supreme Court on Nov. 13. Killer Mike first became aware of the case when attorney Antonio Moore broke it down for him.
In an exclusive interview with theGrio, Killer Mike explained his thoughts about the impending Supreme Court review and what other Black people should be doing to ensure our rights won’t be violated.
As a long-time fan of Allen’s, Killer Mike has studied his career for years, even calling him a “genius.”
“I’ve watched Byron Allen and how he works since I was a kid. I love his TV shows and how he eventually started programming shows in those late-night slots. He would purchase the time slots that used to be for infomercials, turn around and sell those ads for his shows. Genius!” says Mike.
As a follower of his work, the rapper understands the usual challenges that Allen has faced over the years as a successful Black entrepreneur. However, he also believes that these challenges must be met with an iron fist.
“If everything does not go as planned in this case, Black people have to pull out of Comcast all together,” says Mike.
“We also have to look at the political parties that aren’t supporting him and pull our support from them. We cannot look at this as if we are only fighting for Byron Allen. This is bigger than that.”
It is bigger than just the Entertainment Studios’ head honcho. This is about precedent, and if the Comcast has their way, it’s a decision that will affect Blacks as a whole.
“The Civil Rights Act of 1866 (the law that Entertainment Studios and Allen are using to argue their case) came about right after slavery ended and before Reconstruction. It was supposed to ensure that Blacks had fair shake in business,” explains Mike.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t always happened. Case in point, there’s only one Bob Johnson, America’s first and only Black billionaire, when there could be many more. Systematic racism has put huge hurdles in the way causing the playing field to be far from equal.
“If Allen is playing fair, and he has the capacity to produce quality programming, why would they not allow him space at Comcast? You can’t say people are not interested- everyone needs the weather,” Killer Mike says of Allen, who acquired the Weather Channel for $300 million last year.
“There is quality control with his networks, so what more do they want.”
We anticipate the answer will become clear during trial, but there are some things that Mike does believe can help this cause outside of the legal system. When we see that Black moguls are not being treated fairly, the community cannot let them fight alone.
“We have to ask ourselves, are we willing to withhold our vote? If he is going to win, the community simply has to stand firm behind him.”
If no one else has Allen’s back, it seems as if the “Ric Flair” emcee does.
Democrats Court Black Voters in Hopes of Picking Off Biden’s Support
African-American voters account for about a quarter of Democratic electorate.
Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren held rallies at historically black colleges in Atlanta. Former Vice President Joe Biden convened with African-American mayors nearby, while Sen. Kamala Harris met with black business owners. Civil-rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton hosted Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sens. Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar.
Democratic presidential candidates this week appealed to black voters with renewed urgency in a campaign lacking a clear front-runner with less than three months before Democrats vote in the first nominating contests.
Polling has shown Mr. Biden maintains a commanding lead among black voters, who account for roughly a quarter of the Democratic electorate. His rivals hope to siphon off some of that support, which surveys show is strongest among older African Americans. They also hope to appeal to younger black voters, who are traditionally active in primaries but largely undecided.
“You can’t win without a solid black voter turnout,” Mr. Sharpton said. “It’s the core of the Democratic Party.”
The Democrats’ dueling events with African-American voters in Atlanta this week, where the party held its fifth presidential debate, made clear the candidates are aware of the challenge they face.
Ms. Warren anchored her remarks at historically black Clark Atlanta University around an 1881 strike by black washerwomen in Atlanta.
“I’ve been called persistent in my time— and I love it,” Ms. Warren said. “But understand this: The persistence of generations of black women, and black people in America, up to and including many people in this crowd tonight, is the true story of American persistence.”
Mr. Sanders has made a more concerted effort to reach black voters after losing them to Hillary Clinton by 50 percentage points in the 2016 Democratic primary. His campaign this week detailed a new plan to invest billions of dollars in historically black colleges and universities.
At a rally at Morehouse College, a historically black school from which the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. graduated, Mr. Sanders cast himself as a candidate who knew the threat of discrimination, pointing out that his father came to the U.S. from Poland fleeing anti-Semitism.
“A lot of people in my father’s family did not make it out of Poland,” Mr. Sanders said. “They were murdered by the father of white supremacy, Adolf Hitler.”
Josiah Leonard, a 19-year-old freshman at Morehouse, said he was leaning toward voting for Mr. Sanders after hearing his speech.
“He hasn’t felt what it’s like to be a black man,” Mr. Leonard said of Mr. Sanders. “But he knows about racial injustice and mass incarceration.”
A similarly personal effort by Mr. Buttigieg, in which he cited his background as a gay man to empathize with black voters, drew pushback after the debate Wednesday. Sen. Harris of California called the comments “a bit naive,” saying civil-rights activists “know that it is important that we not compare our struggles.”
Mr. Buttigieg told reporters he wasn’t trying to equate the two experiences, adding: “This is a time for solidarity, and anyone who has experienced whatever personal struggle we bring to this fight needs to reach into that as motivation to help others.”
Mr. Biden has taken heat during debates for his positions on race-related issues, from his role in crime legislation in the 1990s to his opposition to federally mandated busing to integrate schools. But his support has remained strong among black Democrats.
On Wednesday, he again stumbled, earning a rebuke from Mr. Booker and Ms. Harris, when he erroneously claimed to have the endorsement of the only black woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate. Ms. Harris, the second black woman elected to the Senate, threw her hands in the air.
“The other one is here,” she said.
Mr. Biden’s slips have prompted at least one more candidate to enter the race with an eye toward making inroads on the former vice president’s coalition.
Deval Patrick, the former two-term governor of Massachusetts, started his campaign last week in a long-shot bid centered in part around the notion that he can cut into Mr. Biden’s African-American support.
Campaigning in South Carolina this week, Mr. Patrick, who is African-American, courted voters in majority-black neighborhoods, where he introduced himself by reflecting on his roots on the South Side of Chicago. At a community event with about a dozen black female business owners, most of the women didn’t know who Mr. Patrick was, but they pulled out their cellphones to document the visit of a presidential candidate.
Asked by The Wall Street Journal about Mr. Biden’s dominance in the state, Mr. Patrick dismissed the polls as “a moment in time.”
“I respect Vice President Biden,” he said. “He has huge name recognition and he’s been a friend of mine. But I think it is also true that in black communities, in South Carolina and elsewhere…people don’t feel seen and heard, if at all, between elections and between campaigns.”
Mr. Patrick is nonetheless learning that mounting a campaign at this late date in the race may prove a herculean task.
His campaign canceled an event Wednesday at Morehouse when only two people came. A photo of a room full of empty chairs circulated on the internet.
Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs Slams GM For Not Supporting Black-Owned Media
Musician and entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs criticized General Motors Co. and other companies for failing to support Black-owned media, saying Corporate America could no longer “manipulate our community into believing that incremental progress is acceptable.”
The rapper, who founded the Revolt cable network in 2013, posted an open letter on that company’s website Thursday calling out companies for spending less than 1% of their advertising on Black-owned media.
He singled out General Motors because it recently cited Revolt as a company it supports. “While Revolt does receive advertising revenue from GM, our relationship is not an example of success. Instead, Revolt, just like other Black-owned media companies, fights for crumbs while GM makes billions of dollars every year from the Black community,” he said.
“Corporations like General Motors have exploited our culture, undermined our power, and excluded Black entrepreneurs from participating in the value created by Black consumers,” said Combs, who first rose to fame in the 1990s as a hip-hop artist and record producer.
In response, GM said that the company is currently meeting with Black-owned media enterprises as the automaker works on its plan to spend more with those properties. Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra will be in some of those meetings. Company spokesman Pat Morrissey said that for this year, GM doubled its spending with Black-owned media groups to 2%.
“We will increase our spend with this important segment to 4% in 2022, and will continue to grow our spend thereafter with a target of 8% by 2025,” Morrissey said in an email. “We already have the highest diversity media spend in our industry and we believe this furthers that leadership and commitment.”
Pressure has mounted on companies to diversify their ranks and reform policies since the killing of George Floyd last year sparked nationwide protests. GM and Barra have come under particular scrutiny, with Black media entrepreneurs such as Weather Channel owner Byron Allen saying the company refused to meet with them. They took out a full-page ad in the Detroit Free Press saying Barra was ignoring them and spending less than 0.5% of the company’s advertising dollars on Black-owned media.
Morrissey said that GM executives have meet with Allen, that Black-owned media “are a vital component of our marketing mix, and we evaluate our spend for media partners through several core metrics, including transparency, innovation, ad quality, audience delivery and brand safety.”
In his letter, Combs also slammed distributors for not carrying Black-owned media brands “in an era where our impact and influence is undeniable.”
Corporate America should invest the same percentage that it gets from the Black community back into Black-owned media, he said.
“If you love us, pay us!” he said. “The time is now! Radical change is the only option. You’re either with us or you are on the other side.”
Byron Allen Goes To Court Again For Black-Owned Media
Byron Allen, the onetime stand-up comic turned all-around media mogul, is a man on a mission.
Allen sued McDonald’s Corp. for $10 billion on Thursday, alleging the fast-food giant is discriminating against Black-owned media companies like his.
The suit is part of a bigger push by the 60-year-old entrepreneur to correct what he says has been decades of bias against Black-owned businesses. Allen says he’ll publicly shame, organize boycotts against and sue companies that don’t commit to supporting African-American-owned media outlets. Executives who stand in his way will see their careers end, he promises, left behind by the march of racial progress.
“Don’t minimize it — this is history,” Allen said during a series of presentations he organized for Black-owned media firms in mid-May. “There are advertisers out there who will say, ‘Oh, we’ve got a Negro problem. How little can we give them to shut up and go away so I can get back to my White-privileged life?’ This isn’t that conversation. We want to effectuate change and eradicate the economic exclusion.”
Allen claims McDonald’s spent just $5 million — 0.3% of its $1.6 billion ad budget — with Black-owned media companies in 2019, and won’t buy spots on his channels. He says the restaurant chain relegates Black media outlets to a lesser tier budget-wise, and pays them less.
Early Thursday morning, before Allen filed his suit, McDonald’s released a four-year plan to increase U.S. spending with companies owned by women and minorities to 10% from 4%. The company said it would “forge new multiyear partnerships with diverse-owned media companies” and would form an advisory board of external marketing and advertising subject-matter experts.
“Together with our owner/operators, we have doubled down on our relationships with diverse-owned partners,” McDonald’s said in a statement responding to the suit, noting the commitments from its Thursday release. “Once we receive the complaint, we will review and respond accordingly.”
George Floyd Jr.’s videotaped murder last year sparked a national reckoning on race, which spread from street protests to corporate America’s C-suites and boardrooms. Even as companies’ commitments to improve diversity and inclusion swelled, Covid-19 exacted a disproportionate economic toll: The pandemic shuttered 41% of Black-owned businesses, nearly twice the national average, according to a study released in August by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
In an interview Friday during the Bloomberg Businessweek virtual summit, Byron said he had spoken with 500 companies, 95% of which were embracing his request to increase spending with Black-owned companies. He said the response from McDonald’s has fallen short.
“It’s not enough,” he said. “I can assure you they were very aware of the fact that we were formulating this lawsuit because my attorneys were in touch with their attorney.”
Allen’s in-your-face approach is meant to meet the moment. In March, he and six other Black media executives, including rapper-actor Ice Cube, took out a full-page ad in the Detroit Free Press accusing General Motors Co. Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra of racial bias for not taking a meeting with them.
“Mary, the very definition of systemic racism is when you are ignored, excluded and you don’t have true economic inclusion,” the letter read. General Motors responded that it would significantly increase its spending on Black-owned media, with the company ultimately committing 8% of its budget to such outlets by 2025, an increase from 1% last year. Barra also said she would meet with the media executives.
Another company pledging to get onboard is Verizon Communications Inc. The wireless giant is planning a “Black-Owned Media Summit” on May 24 in partnership with Allen’s company, Allen Media Group.
In a “responsible marketing” plan announced last month after discussions with Allen, Verizon pledged to spend more than 30% of its 2021 ad-production budget with companies owned by women and minorities. The plan also calls for 2% of the company’s overall ad spending to go to Black-owned media companies like Allen’s.
Earlier this month, GroupM, the media-buying arm of advertising giant WPP Plc, said it would “invite” the companies it represents to spend at least 2% of their budgets on Black-owned media. GroupM’s clients include Ford Motor Co., Colgate-Palmolive Co. and Nestle SA.
‘Better ZIP Code’
Allen was only partly pleased with that pledge. “Get it to a better ZIP code,” he said at the Black-owned media event, specifically naming Kirk McDonald, a Black executive at GroupM who was part of the announcement. He also called out executives by name at the media-buying arms of Omnicom Group Inc., Publicis Groupe SA and Horizon Media Inc., saying he was talking to them about similar commitments.
“We’re going to have the whole industry come together,” he said. “This is bigger than ad dollars. Like, you actually think we’re going to go away? There’s no amount of money I won’t spend. Trust me. I’m trained to go a thousand rounds.”
Allen, who got his first big break in show business as a comic on “The Tonight Show” at 18, has built a fortune producing TV programs such as “America’s Court With Judge Ross” and the game show “Funny You Should Ask.” He expanded into TV networks, such as Cars.tv and Pets.tv, and in 2018 bought the Weather Channel for $300 million.
“I wanted to have that Jackie Robinson moment,” he said during an April panel discussion on Black-owned media. “I wanted young Black kids to see us play in the global leagues and not just the Negro leagues.”
His closely held, Los Angeles-based Allen Media Group now owns a dozen networks, including theGrio, aimed at African-Americans, as well as Local Now, a streaming service for news, entertainment and weather. In April, he agreed to buy seven network-affiliated TV stations for $380 million, bringing his total number of those, in markets such as Honolulu and Terre Haute, Indiana, to 23.
Allen’s company was projected to earn as much as $180 million on sales of around $500 million over the next 12 months, according to a September report from Moody’s Investors Service. He has relied on debt to build the business, with almost $1 billion in borrowings before the most recent station transaction. He’s also an active buyer and remodeler of luxury homes, taking out an $83 million loan against his Beverly Hills mansion.
“Management’s financial policy allows for high leverage that is currently above our tolerance,” Moody’s analysts wrote about Allen Media. “We also believe there is high event risk, as management has an appetite for further debt-financed M&A.”
Where discussions about advertising and minorities historically focused on how often they appeared in ads, or on advertiser spending on media viewed by them, Allen has shifted the debate to Black-owned media. That’s a category in which his company may now be the largest. Many of his properties, such as his biggest, the Weather Channel, don’t feature programming specifically for Black viewers.
In 2014, Allen incorporated the National Association of African American Owned Media in California. Three months later, he sued Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable company, for $20 billion for refusing to carry for his channels, such as Justice.tv and Recipe.tv.
“His lawsuit, that puts this in the public domain for people to talk about, is not something that normally happens,” said Sonya Grier, a professor of marketing at American University in Washington.
The case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in March 2020 that Allen had to prove racial discrimination was the reason Comcast wouldn’t pay for those networks. It was a big setback for his case. But three months later, in the wake of the Floyd killing, Comcast settled for undisclosed terms. Allen had also sued Charter Communications Inc., the second-largest cable TV provider, and settled with that company as well in March of this year.
‘About His Wallet’
Allen’s detractors wonder if the executive’s quest is genuinely altruistic or ultimately self-aggrandizing. Among them is John Hope Bryant, chief executive officer of the financial-literacy nonprofit Operation Hope Inc. “This is not about all of us, this is about his wallet,” Bryant said in a Facebook Live video after the Comcast settlement, adding that he’s fine with that aside from the perceived hypocrisy.
“I want to see this largess that has just been cut, shared with all the folks that backed him,” Bryant said of the settlement. “If he does that then I’m more than happy, but I doubt he’s going to do what I’m going to suggest.”
Allen said he can remember clearly the day Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, in April 1968. He was playing baseball outside his home in Detroit when his mother called him inside. Soon there were soldiers on the streets.
Many years later, he said, he met King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, after buying the screen rights to her 1993 memoir “My Life With Martin Luther King Jr.” King told him that her husband hadn’t been assassinated because of his famous 1963 “I have a dream” speech but because of a later one, in which he said the struggle for civil rights must include economic equality.
“The hair went up on my arms,” Allen recalled at a March event sponsored by the Los Angeles Business Journal, “and I’ve changed my life forever.”
Black-Owned Media Collective Launches To Help Brands Meet New Ad Commitments
Group Black Inc. also intends to invest some proceeds in Black-owned media properties.
Group Black Inc., a collective aimed at deepening the pipeline of Black-owned media companies, launched Tuesday with an ad-spending target of $75 million from a WPP PLC unit.
The new collective and business accelerator seeks to attract ad spending from marketers that are trying to diversify where they advertise.
Group Black aims to advise advertisers and agencies on possible media plans with its members, which include Essence Communications Inc., the publisher of Essence magazine, which focuses on Black women; Holler Technologies Inc., which specializes in stickers and GIFs for digital messages and posts; esports startup PlayVS and news companies Shade Room LLC and Baller Alert Inc.
The new collective also plans to invest a portion of its revenue to buy equity stakes in Black-owned media companies.
GroupM, a media-buying company owned by advertising giant WPP, said it aims to spend $75 million of clients’ budgets through Group Black, a move that it said could help marketers find new media partners and more effectively reach consumers.
GroupM has previously called on its clients to spend at least 2% of their ad budgets on diverse-owned media.
GroupM clients participating in Group Black include Target Corp. , according to the companies.
Advertisers including General Motors Co. , McDonald’s Corp. and Coca-Cola Corp. are pledging to increase their advertising in Black-owned media amid pressure on U.S. businesses to counter racial inequality following nationwide protests over the police murder of George Floyd in 2020.
McDonald’s said in May that its spending with Black-owned media would rise to 5% of its national advertising budget by 2024 from 2% now.
The fast-food chain is also facing a lawsuit from companies owned by media mogul Byron Allen, accusing it of discriminating against Black-owned media companies.
McDonald’s called those allegations unfounded. “As we defend against this lawsuit, we will continue to collaborate with diverse-owned partners that keep the brand at the center of culture and create deeper relationships with our customers, crew and employees,” the company said.
Ad buyers have said that sometimes, there are challenges to spending more with Black-owned media, which typically have a much smaller reach than the publicly traded digital and media giants that collect the lion’s share of ad spending.
“The reality is the Black-owned media industry is nascent, it’s underfunded and the pipeline is so small,” said Travis Montaque, chief executive, director and co-founder of Group Black, as well as founder and chief executive of Holler.
Group Black’s investments in Black-owned companies, through an accelerator called Group Black Ventures, are partly meant to expand the pipeline of attractive channels for advertisers, Mr. Montaque said.
“A lot of these properties have been underinvested in for so long that they’re not seeing the opportunities out there that the general market sees,” he said.
Kirk McDonald, chief executive of GroupM’s North American operations, said clients realize that audiences aren’t homogenous and the media-buying company wants to “improve experiences for consumers and results for brands.”
Byron Allen Gets More Backing For His Bid For Broadcaster Tegna
* Oaktree, Fortress, Milken Join Ares In Preferred Equity
* Tegna In Talks With Rival Bidders Apollo, Standard General
Byron Allen has shored up more investors to back his $23-a-share takeover offer for television broadcaster Tegna Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.
The media mogul is seeking $8 billion or more in debt and equity to outbid a consortium that includes private equity giant Apollo Global Management Inc. and Standard General, said the people, who asked to not be identified because the matter isn’t public.
Allen is discussing raising at least $2 billion in preferred equity from Oaktree Capital Group, Fortress Investment Group, the family office of Michael Milken and Ares Management Corp., the people said. Other investors are also in talks to participate in the preferred equity while several banks are in talks to provide debt that could top $6 billion, they added.
The people said Allen is also in talks to roll his existing businesses including the Weather Channel and local TV stations into the company to help secure financing. He would own all the common equity of the new business, they said.
Allen has also told Tegna that he’s willing to agree to whatever divestitures or remedies are necessary to win regulatory approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department, the people added.
The group bidding against Allen — Standard General and Apollo — has told Tegna it would consider a similar provision as part of a broader negotiation around price, they said.
Without confirming he was bidding for Tegna, Allen said in an interview Tuesday with Bloomberg TV that he plans to invest $10 billion in local TV stations over the next four years and to buy as many as he can.
“Local news matters, you’re not going to replace that any time soon,” Allen said in the interview during the Milken Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California.
The big broadcast networks have locked up rights for pro football and other sports that will keep viewers watching, he said. His company also produces some 70 syndicated TV shows that he could run on the local channels.
If his Entertainment Studios were to acquire a large station group, “We have synergies,” Allen said.
Tegna has 64 television stations throughout the U.S. as well as ownership of media properties such as the True Crime Network, according to its website. Its shares fell 0.2% to close at $19.76 in New York on Tuesday, giving the company a market value of about $4.4 billion. The shares rose as much as 3.9% after the close of regular trading before sinking to the closing price.
A comedian-turned-TV producer, Allen’s Entertainment Studios bought the Weather Channel in 2018 for $300 million. He pursued Tegna last year when it explored a sale before talks shut down during the coronavirus pandemic.
He’s squaring off against deep-pocketed competition for Tegna. Apollo and Standard General have offered $22 a share in a fully-financed bid for the company, the people said. Standard General is one of Tegna’s largest shareholders, with a 4.8% stake as of June 30, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
As part of Apollo and Standard General’s bid, broadcast executive Deb McDermott would be chief executive officer and Standard General’s Soo Kim would be controlling shareholder of the company, the people said.
Tegna has concerns about Apollo’s ownership stake in Cox Media Group, the people said. That’s because they have stations in several overlapping markets, which could slow a regulatory review, they added.
While Tegna is open to a sale, there’s no guarantee that either bidder will prevail and Tegna could still decide to remain independent, the people said.
Representatives for Tegna, Apollo, Ares and Allen declined to comment. Representatives for Standard General, Fortress and Oaktree didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
A spokesman for the financier and philanthropist Milken said, “Milken private investments are just that — private.”
Dealreporter first reported some of Allen’s financing plans this month.
McDonald’s Loses Bid To Get Allen Suit Tossed; Will Refile
* Judge Denies Mcdonald’s Bid To Dismiss Suit Over Advertising
* Fast-Food Chain Sued Over Lack Of Ads In Black-Owned Media
A federal judge has denied McDonald Corp.’s request to throw out a discrimination lawsuit brought by media mogul Byron Allen, reigniting a campaign helmed by the businessman to gain more advertising for Black-owned media companies.
The McDonald’s motion was denied “for improperly referencing materials outside the pleadings,” U.S. District Judge Fernando Olguin in Los Angeles said in his ruling Friday. The ruling requires McDonald’s to refile the request or respond to Allen’s lawsuit by Jan. 27.
McDonald’s said the ruling was procedural.
“McDonald’s will refile its motion to dismiss by January 27 and continues to believe plaintiffs’ claims are meritless,” the company said in a statement. “This case is about revenue not race, and plaintiffs’ groundless allegations ignore McDonald’s legitimate business reasons for not investing more on their channels and the company’s collaboration with diverse-owned partners.”
In May, Allen’s Entertainment Studios Networks Inc. sued McDonald’s, claiming the fast food chain discriminates against Black-owned television networks like his Weather Channel by almost exclusively spending its advertising dollars with White-owned stations. The lawsuit, which seeks $10 billion in damages, is part of a movement by Allen to correct what he deems is a long-running bias against Black-owned businesses.
Allen’s lawsuit was initially dismissed, and he’s now seeking to move ahead with a third amended complaint.
“We look forward to presenting our enormous evidence in court, which will prove the systemic racism at McDonald’s,” Allen said in a statement. “And I firmly believe the board at McDonald’s should fire the CEO Chris Kempczinski immediately.”
McDonald’s spends less than $5 million, or 0.3% of its annual $1.6 billion advertising budget, with Black-owned media companies, according to the original complaint. The TV producer and entrepreneur, who is African-American, has said advertisers should spend at least 5% of their budgets with companies such as his.
The case is Entertainment Studios Networks Inc. v. McDonald’s USA, 2:21-cv-04972, U.S. District Court, Central District of California.
Byron Allen Says He’s Preparing Bid For NFL’s Denver Broncos
* Allen Was Approached By NFL’s Roger Goodell, Bob Kraft In 2019
* Hollywood Mogul Would Be League’s First Black Owner Of A Team
Media mogul Byron Allen is preparing a bid for the Denver Broncos, a move that if successful would make him the first Black majority owner of a National Football League team.
“NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft came to me in November of 2019 and asked me to take a good look at buying an NFL team,” Allen, chairman and chief executive officer at Allen Media Group, said in a statement in response to inquiries about his interest in the Broncos.
“And after serious consideration, I strongly believe I can help effectuate positive changes throughout the league,” Allen said in a statement. “And for that reason, I will be making a bid for the Denver Broncos.”
Both Allen and the Broncos are working with bankers, with the football team choosing the boutique investment bank Allen & Co., to facilitate a transaction, according to a person familiar with the situation. The investor group led by Allen could pay $3 billion to $4 billion for the Broncos, the person said, asking not to be identified because the information was private.
Allen’s group is expected to include investors from Wall Street, Hollywood, sports and business, the person said. The group would put down roughly 75% of the price in liquid assets, the person said. To date, the NFL has required a principal franchise owner to have a stake of at least 30%.
Since the possibility of Allen buying a team was raised in 2019, he has held numerous virtual meetings with the NFL, Kraft and the Broncos organization, the person added.
Representatives for the NFL, Kraft, the Broncos and Allen & Co. didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for Allen Media declined to comment beyond the statement.
With fewer than a dozen sales of a National Football League franchise over the past two decades, the opportunity to own the Broncos provides a rare opportunity to enter an elite club. The billionaire founder of Vista Equity Partners — and Denver native — Robert F. Smith was earlier touted as a potential bidder, but a person familiar with the matter said that pursuing ownership of the Broncos isn’t on Smith’s radar right now.
Allen, 60, is also a Detroit native who came to prominence as a comedian appearing on NBC’s Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He went on to become a television producer and later founded Allen Media, which consists of the Weather Channel and about $1 billion invested recently to acquire 27 local network stations.
In January, Allen signed a multi-platform partnership with Google. He also has bid for the regional television operator Tegna Inc., however acquisition talks are still ongoing.
If Allen is successful, it could be seen as a lift for the NFL, which has been beset by controversies involving race and social justice.
The league’s most notable reputational hit began in 2016 when then San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick led what became a series of protests against police brutality and racial inequality. Kaepernick has since been unable to find a place on the roster of an NFL team despite having led the 49ers to a Super Bowl.
This month, former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores sued the league, alleging racial discrimination in its hiring practices. The NFL has said the allegations are “without merit.”
As a television station owner, Allen has waged high-profile battles vying for economic inclusion against some of the biggest advertisers in the world, including McDonald’s Corp. and General Motors Co., alleging discrimination against Black-owned media outlets. Owning an NFL team would thrust him into a business that makes the most-watched and biggest ad-supported broadcasts in the country.
The Broncos began playing in 1960 as an original franchise in the American Football League and joined the NFL when the two merged in 1970. This month, the Broncos announced the franchise, which finished the season with seven wins and 10 losses, was up for sale at the start of February.
The sale announcement followed a protracted court battle between family members of Pat Bowlen, who bought the team in 1984 and died in 2019.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has said a swift sale of the team by the Bowlen family would be best for all. “Settling the ownership situation is critical to getting the organization’s attention focused back to where it needs to be, which is fielding a successful and competitive football team that all of Broncos Country can continue to be proud of,” Hancock said in a statement.
Allen, who owns 100% of Allen Media, has used high-yield debt to build his television empire. Last year, he borrowed more than $500 million to acquire stations from Gray Television Inc.
In addition to his Beverly Hills mansion, Allen has bought several trophy properties across the U.S., including a chalet in Aspen, Colorado, for $27 million, an apartment at 220 Central Park South in Manhattan for $26.75 million and an oceanfront home in Maui for about $23 million.
Crypto Enthusiasts Forming DAO To Buy Denver Broncos NFL Team
If the sale goes through, the Broncos would join the Green Bay Packers as the only teams in the 32-team NFL owned by cooperatives.
The U.S. National Football League’s (NFL) Denver Broncos team is for sale, and a DAO might be the next owner.
* ESPN estimates the team would sell for $4 billion, which is what the DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) is aiming to raise.
* The effort is being led by Sean O’Brien, a 10-year veteran of Cisco Systems’ legal department. O’Brien said the DAO will go live this week.
* A decentralized autonomous organization is an organizatrion represented by rules encoded as a computer program that is transparent, controlled by the organization members and not influenced by a central government.
* According to O’Brien, the DAO would also incorporate as a cooperative, and participants in the DAO would have a parallel ownership share of the cooperative.
* The team has been run by a trust since its owner, Pat Bowlen, died in 2017. The NFL has signaled that it would like a deal closed by the start of the 2022 season.
Wisconsin’s Green Bay Packers team is owned by a community cooperative, first incorporated in 1923 in a structure similar to what the DAO would use to purchase the Denver Broncos.
In 1980, the NFL put in new rules that banned a “decentralized,” community-driven ownership that the Green Bay Packers use (though the team has an exception via a grandfathering clause).
Rules state that ownership must be led by a single person that has at least 30% equity in the team, with minor exceptions for a family ownership structure. There is also a limit of 32 owners for one team, and sales need to be approved by the NFL.
In Canada, the Canadian Football League has two teams with a community ownership structure: the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.