WISH-TV owner loses discrimination suits
Circle City Broadcasting, which owns WISH-TV Channel 8 and WNDY-TV Channel 23, has been unsuccessful in a legal battle against AT&T Services Inc., DirecTV and Dish TV that alleged racial discrimination by the defendants.
Federal Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on Friday dismissed Circle City Broadcasting’s claims in two separate lawsuits.
The first suit was filed by Circle City Broadcasting and owner and CEO DuJuan McCoy against AT&T and former subsidiary DirecTV in 2020. The suit alleged that AT&T engaged in racial discrimination when it refused to pay a retransmission fee to carry WISH and WNDY on DirecTV and Uverse even though it had previously paid such fees to Nexstar Broadcasting Inc., which sold the stations to Circle City for $42.5 million in 2019.
McCoy, who is Black, accused AT&T of “refusing to negotiate a contract with Circle City because the stations in question are now owned by a Black man.”
AT&T denied the discrimination charge and said it was policy “not to pay license fees for standalone non-Big 4 affiliated stations” like WISH and WNDY because “it does not believe those stations generate sufficient economic value to justify paying fees.”
Judge Pratt said she was dismissing the case on summary judgment because Circle City failed to present “any evidence—direct or circumstantial—to support a reasonable inference of discriminatory motive.”
“While Circle City did not like how (the defendants) chose to negotiate with it, nothing in the record connects any of these actions to some form of racial animus or intent to discriminate based on race,” she wrote.
In the other suit, filed by Circle City against Dish Network in 2020, Circle City made similar claims of discrimination after negotiations over retransmission fees broke down.
Again, Pratt said she was dismissing the case on summary judgment because there was no “direct evidence of discrimination.”