Media mogul Byron Allen filed a $10 billion lawsuit against McDonald’s Corp on Thursday, alleging the fast-food franchise is discriminating against Black-owned media companies such as his own. According to Bloomberg, Allen said McDonald’s spent less than 1% of its $1.6 billion ad budget with Black-owned media companies in 2019.
“This is about economic inclusion of African American-owned businesses in the U.S. economy,” Allen said in a statement, according to The Chicago Tribune. “McDonald’s takes billions from African American consumers and gives almost nothing back.”
Shortly before the media mogul filed the lawsuit, the fast-food chain released a four-year plan, saying it would “forge new multiyear partnerships with diverse-owned media companies” and form an advisory board of external marketing and advertising subject-matter experts.
According to the plan, the franchise will increase U.S. spending with companies owned by women and minorities from 4% to 10%.
“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. “Once we receive the complaint, we will review and respond accordingly.”
Allen isn’t satisficed with the response.
“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,” he told Bloomberg.
The 60-year-old entrepreneur also joined Ice Cube and other six other Black media executives in March to bring accusations of racial bias against General Motors Co. Taking out a full-page ad in the Detroit Free Press, the group said Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra refused to take a meeting with them.
General Motors said it’s planning to increase its spending on Black-owned media, committing 8% of its budget to such outlets by 2025.
Verizon Communications is also planning a “Black-Owned Media Summit” on May 24 in partnership with Allen’s company. Verizon pledged to spend more than 30% of its 2021 ad-production budget with women and minority-owned companies.
“We’re going to have the whole industry come together,” Allen 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.”
The business man first came into the public eye as an 18-year-old comedian who performed on The Tonight Show. He has since produced TV programs such as America’s Court With Judge Ross and Funny You Should Ask. In 2018, Allen bought the Weather Channel for $300 million. His Los Angeles-based Allen Media Group now owns a dozen networks.
In 2014, the entrepreneur sued Comcast Corp. for $20 billion, saying they refused to carry his channels. After the case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, the judge said last year that Allen had to prove racial discrimination was the reason Comcast wouldn’t pay for the networks.
Amid the Black Lives Matter uprising of last year, which encouraged companies to ramp up their efforts to support Black businesses, Comcast settled Allen’s case for undisclosed terms.